Life is a season of starts and ends. Starts and ends come with numerous whatifs and anxieties about what will happen next. It happens to all of us – young and old alike.
The end of summer break ushers the start of a new school year, of autumn, and of cooler months ahead. For some it may mean starting in a new school, a new job, a new state of health – improved or otherwise – for yourself or loved ones. For others it could be the start of a married life while starting it in a brand new place far from family and friends.
What can get us through all the nerve-racking anticipation of changes and challenges is to trust in someone who has a handle in all of it. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” Lean persistently on the Lord and live peacefully in Him.
May you find comfort and confidence in the Lord in the season of your starts and ends.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
In the Filipino parlance, “Nanay” is an endearing term we use to call our moms. As with other languages, it is one of many variants of references for mothers – one that conveys not just respect and admiration, but love.
As many of you know, Nanay Belen, the mother of our dear sister Lisa Sabinosa, has been in the care of our hospital system since February of this year after having undergone surgery and a heart problem thereafter that caused her to be immobile. She is now at the EW Bickle Centre – a rehabilitation facility for those requiring complex physical care. My wife and mother joined me in visiting her last Sunday after having recovered myself from an abdominal pain that kept us away from church that morning. Lately, I’ve been feeling vulnerable under the weight of my own frail, human physical condition.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:5-7
Indoor waterparks are a big draw here in Canada where people are always looking for a place to get respite from the bitterly cold winters. Now that it’s summer time we don’t think too much about this since people can still enjoy the warm weather. But wait until the cold wind starts settling in. I shouldn’t be saying this now as people are already looking forward to summer time!
This reminded me of an experience we had several winters ago when we visited a very popular indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls. As we entered the waterpark, we saw people of different ages enjoying themselves amidst the pleasure of splashing waters and slides while sipping juices and snapping pictures of themselves basking in the happy moments.
The waterpark advertised about maintaining a balmy summer-like temperature. However, to our dismay, the freezing temperature outside seems to be seeping into the park creating an uncomfortable climate inside. It got to the point where our son suffered a mild hypothermia causing his body to slow down until he almost slept.
As I look back at this experience, I realized that our life with Christ can go through the same fate if we are not careful. While we enjoy the eternal security that God promises in His Son, there can be lurking spiritual threats from outside that can slowly trickle into our lives. These dangers can leach into our lives as we dabble and enjoy the pleasures of the world until we become so identified and familiar with it to the point of enjoyment. The innocence and entrancement of the experience can cause a debilitating spiritual hypothermia if we are not vigilante.
Child of God, don’t let the cold and dark world bleed its color into the warmth and light of your heart where Christ lives.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” – Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
My seasonal allergies started acting up yesterday. It can be a very debilitating experience, especially when I first had it 16 years ago. But like many other things that come our way, we hopefully find ways to deal with them as God supplies us with the strength and patience.
“His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” – Job 2:9-13
I shared this story to the congregation when I preached last Sunday on bitterness. I was hesitant at first but I realized that God can use such a tumultuous episode in our lives as a way to build and encourage others. I know that He did it for me. Such incredible pain can turn one who trusts in the Lord to someone useful for His kingdom. I hope you see why as I recount such a harrowing experience…