We travel across the interstate at 63 miles per hour through the darkest of nights. Siblings slumber in the backseat, and parents talk quietly in the front as the miles slip by. The moon is shaded by swiftly moving clouds, but I can still see the smiles and hear laughter from a day blessed by what I believe was the very touch of heaven.
Thanksgiving wells up from 19 years full of blessings.
Driving 50 miles per hour and only a few minutes from home, the impact of another vehicle slammed into their car just before the driver cried out, “Help us, Jesus!”
A friend of mine was driving back from a similar day full of blessings and smiles when she found on a backboard en route to the emergency room after a head-on collision. She and the two family members with her could have easily lost their lives that night.
And meanwhile I sit on my bed’s quilt at home, grappling with the fragility of life. How can one moment be all smiles, laughter, and lightheartedness – while the next is broken glass, shattered dreams, and cold death staring at you in the face?
“....and suddenly I began to appreciate the moments of my life so much more then I had before,” my friend writes a few days later.
So often I take my heartbeat for granted. I assume that tomorrow will always come, that my loved ones will always be with me, and we will always be safe from the harm others face daily. I take for granted the safe haven of my home, the apparent security of quiet life in New England.
My friend in the accident had closed head injuries, a whiplash, multiple bruises, and a nasty cut from the impact of slamming against her own seat belt. “But the pain just reminds me that I am alive,” she says. “God chose me!”
Her words of faith stopped me in my tracks. Could it be that the breath He has given to each of us today, is testament to the fact that He has chosen us to live on? Could sometimes the pain we struggle with in life, be there to remind us that we feel? When life brings disappointment or hurt and in brokenness we cry out to God, could the pain be there to remind us that we are still alive?
II. My friends
Thank you for reminding me that I do not walk alone - that there are others who want to love God before anything else, striving to put Him first in ever thought and action, and committed to lifetimes of service. Thank you for each time that you have cheered and challenged me to live life more fully, faithfully and courageously. This has left an imprint on my life never to be forgotten.
God gave us something beautiful - something that still rings throughout the courts of heaven today. And for those on earth, music is an inroad into the hearts of people who would never otherwise show up for a scheduled sermon. Song is a precious way to praise God, and I pray that God will keep singing in our hearts.
IV. The Little Things
The snowy wonderland I wake up to brightens up both the house and my heart. My 4-year-old brother Johnny tugs at my sleeve, looking up at me with wide eyes, “Tell me a story about Jesus and Satan.” He cuddles in my lap on the couch as I recount the story of the great controversy all over again.
My sisters Amy and Bethany make melody ring throughout the house as their voices soar.
Mamma reads 9-year-old Joseph a favorite story, as Daddy pulls into the driveway after a day at work.
An inspiring blog post is just published by a friend.
My three little adopted mice send a spin wheel turning in their tank home not far from my bed.
And all of the little things remind me of how much God loves to give.
V. Fellow Families
New England is a beautiful place, but like-minded families with the same values are not plenteous. Whether living close by, or across the world – thank you. By you we are encouraged that there are other households striving for godliness of life and heart.
If I may mention a few names…
The Nebbletts inspire me every time. I will never forget a chilly night in Massachusetts when God’s presence drew very near during a heartfelt message, and it became my prayer to spend and be spent until I could give no more. Thank you for your example of faithfulness and unstirring uncompromise.
The Suekerts are a dear family. New England would be a lonely place if not for you. We are so incredibly blessed to call you our friends, and privileged to work together with you in ministry.
And the many others – living testaments to the fact that there are like-minded families striving to uphold the standards of God’s Word in daily life.
VI. Mission New England
Because of you, I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. Nothing is more invigorating than ministry, and I can no longer imagine a Sabbath without it. Being involved in Mission New England has given me many opportunities to see the Lord’s spirit working in the hearts of people. It is humbling, encouraging, inspiring.
But even if our endeavors to set New England on fire with the gospel make no difference at all – God does not call us to be successful, but rather to be faithful. If it accomplishes nothing else, stepping forward to serve God continues to touch my heart and change my life.
VII. My family
Again and again I ask myself, “Why me?” There are so many emerging from broken homes, with scarred pasts, and hurting hearts. Why was I placed in such a wonderful home?
I have met many families, but have rarely seen parents so real, devoted, and loving as mine. Instead of pushing us into the world unprepared and unsteady of faith, they nurtured us and spent countless hours of time to instill values and discipline through home education. I feel no control from them – only love as I know that they sincerely care about my choices. The multitude of wisdom and life experience they offer as I make life decisions is a treasure.
Their sacrifices, constant labor, and devotion to God will not go unrewarded nor be unfruitful.
VIII. Opportunity to Love
I haven’t always realized what a privilege it is to love. More than once I have gone to the Source, begging for more. Will You give me love enough to feel it in my heart for those who are even repulsive to me?
Friends, His love is deep and broad enough. I realize now that there is no such thing as an unlovable soul, because love is granted without fail every time I ask.
When I interact with the 300 lb homosexual, I still naturally shrink from her coarseness and insensitivity, but I feel a genuine love for her that I know comes from God Himself.
That is a miracle. I marvel every time…
IX. Success is Faithfulness
I’m thankful that my life is not measured according to the world’s theory of success. Rather, success equals faithfulness for the true Christian.
That goes for when I knock on doors and not a person answers, much less wants a Bible study. For when I speak and it seems as if my words bounce off of the people back to me. For when I feel discouraged that I'm not making enough of a difference.
God does not call us to be "successful" - He calls us to be faithful.
X. My Lord
There is none so beautiful, so sweet, so precious.
Thank you for the breath You give, and the death You died that I might live. I marvel at Your mercy, consistency, and attention to the details of my life.
May this new year of life be marked with more faithfulness, devotion, and love to Thee – much, much more. Place the beauty of heaven in my heart, that when You take me there, it will already be home.