January 4, 2023
The passing of another year brings me closer to logging seven decades in the books. Hearing myself say that seems unreal. It’s been a journey of up, down, and all around repeatedly, and rich memories inspire me today with gratitude for this life. Looking back, it’s easy to see I’ve been very blessed.
But in younger years we have very little hindsight. Much of life is in the future, with scant experience to look to for wisdom and guidance. Because those are both so essential to survive and thrive, it seems to be a handicap not to have them liberally from the start. And yet we don’t, and time compels us forward.
How can we know the way to choose each day? I suppose most people struggle with this question at some time. In my teen years I didn’t know God very well, and following my own ways and thoughts was no longer working. I had really tried but failed to see a path that would lead me higher. Long story short, as I tired on that journey, Jesus stepped in and introduced Himself.
For the first time I became interested in the Bible and soon discovered why doing things my way hadn’t worked. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). That made sense and was easy to believe.
Continuing on, I learned that this book is full of God’s thoughts, and every day became a discovery of more. Redirected now to the source of wisdom, I began to absorb and apply its guidance. “Do not fear; only believe” (Luke 8:50). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Studying the New Testament for the first time, I discovered that instruction to believe was everywhere. My baby steps at first brought little advances that inspired more steps. Now I was walking. Not seeing far ahead, I was learning to rely on God’s promises. The apostle Paul called this walking by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Like a computer being slowly reformatted, my old habits to worry and fret were gradually replaced with trust. Confidence was growing that God is present, He cares, and is ready to act when we believe. At times He required nothing more than expectancy. Most times, though, He gave guidance for my part to play, and obedience to His calling was essential.
I was 20 years old then, single, and had never been farther than a few hundred miles from home. That all began to change when I believed and fully embraced the Bible as trustworthy and valuable.
A move to the Philippines followed, and there I met my wife in the first few months. Less than two years later we were married. She was almost 21 and I had just turned 23 when our first child was born. Our running the race together had begun, and for more than 25 years we moved about while serving the Lord as missionaries in six different countries of the Pacific Rim.
During those years we were blessed with ten children together, homeschooled them all into their teen years, and enjoyed a rich cultural experience in our host countries. By 2003 circumstances brought us and our youngest ones still at home to Canada. It’s been another 20 years since. This year we quietly celebrated our 43rd anniversary, and soon we’ll be empty nesters.
Continuous challenge has been a part of life through the years. In Asia that included our need for visas, financial support, wisdom in parenting, strength and health, and so on. As new immigrants to Canada we started over in so many ways, and it was never easy. But the modus operandi described above has never failed.
I tell you this story because I was once like some are now, worried about the future. With uncertainty everywhere and many former paths to success now failing, people are desperate to find who or what to place their trust in for wisdom and guidance. While no one can believe for you, I hope my story of what happened when we placed our faith in God and His Word will provide evidence of how God cares for those who put their trust in Him. Some might think our story was just good luck, but there was nothing random about it.
Jesus once said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). For years I somewhat misunderstood and assumed that to mean it’s one or the other. That we should just believe and not necessarily expect to see. But I’ve since realized that He was teaching priorities, and that if we first believe, we will eventually see His hand in our lives, too.
Today on the steps of another new year, my prayer is that you will discover or rediscover this faith for yourself. Jesus is alive, and the words He speaks to our hearts and minds are spirit and life. When pressure and uncertainty arise to where you begin to feel neither spirit nor life, Jesus and His promises will remain unchanged. His words of love, hope, and encouragement are able to sustain us in all life’s challenges. As a young man I was given grace to believe that to be true. Now as an older gent I see it is. Fear not, only believe.
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