Book Review: “When God’s Ways Make No Sense”

This review is sponsored by Baker Books, who provided me with the book for the purpose of reviewing. There is an affiliate link by which, if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no cost to you).

I’ve been a Christian my whole life.  I “prayed the prayer” accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, the first time, when I was four years old.  At different points throughout my life my understanding of salvation changed and evolved and now, at nearly half-a-century of living, I understand this:

I KNOW NOTHING.

I can echo with Paul that the things I want to do (live and love like Christ) I don’t do, and the things I despise (living in fear and judgement and overall human nastiness) I do.  Once a preacher and a youth pastor, at times a music minister and and a women’s leader, once a speaker-into-the-lives-of-others and a teacher and an inspirational writer…now just a middle-aged broad who realizes just how horribly imperfect she is and how much damage she’s capable of.

I have no right to speak to anyone. I can’t even get my own crap together.

I think Dr. Larry Crabb has been in the same place. Well, not the woman part, but everything else.

I think that because, in his newly published When God’s Ways Make No Sense, he asks the question that drives us all crazy, the question that has even driven some people away from Christ:

“If God is good, then what is He good for?”

And with that question he dives into the heart of the matter. If God isn’t bent on punishing the wicked and causing His people to do the right thing – just LOOK at the world, LOOK at those who call themselves “the Church”, LOOK! God! It’s disgusting out there! – what is He bent on? Is He even there?

With this review, I could outline how three biblical characters – Jonah, Saul of Tarsus, and Habbakuk – are compared and contrasted. I could look at the different thoughts about God’s sovereignty are examined and evaluated.

But I won’t.

Instead, I will share with you the statement that put a lifetime of walking and falling and sinning and failing and wondering if I would ever live up to God’s expectations of me into eternal perspective:

“Let me try to express the inexpressible good purpose toward which God is faithfully moving us: His Spirit is overwhelming the fallen power of self-centeredness so deeply imbedded [sic] within us with the thirst always stirring in even deeper places within us, a thirst to delight God by trusting His goodness in the worst of times.  That overwhelming thirst frees us to relate in the divine energy of other-centeredness. And when we fail, as we surely will, we trust that God’s love is not weakened and that His good purpose in us will yet be accomplished.” (emphasis added)

This book has renewed my faith in a God I don’t always – or ever – understand.  Before walking away in despair and discouragement and disbelief, read this book.

For All These Things, We Give Thee THANKS!

It is SUPER early on Thanksgiving morning.  I’ve actually been awake since 3:00 am (thank you, puppy), and have since scrolled through Facebook, sent some work emails and messages (I know, shame on me), and have read through a Litany of Thanksgiving.

In the Episcopal (or Anglican, depending on which continent you live) Church, worship services are dictated by rubrics and pre-written prayers and responses.  I grew up in what was considered a “progressive, spontaneous” denomination, and for the most part, prayers were personally developed and not prescribed.  As a middle-aged gal, although sometimes the structure of the liturgy can be boring, it also provides a centering point, being that the worship service is not about me.  Those pre-written prayers have often forced me to consider things and contemplate God in a way I wouldn’t on my own.

So here it is, the Litany of Thanksgiving…with my own little touches here and there (because progressive and spontaneous, right?):

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.

Every good and perfect gift comes to us from the Father of lights…have you ever considered just how gracious God has been with you, for all the amazing and sustaining gifts and blessings He’s bestowed?  I’ve been participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude challenge on Facebook, which has so powerfully helped me to acknowledge just how good my Heavenly Father has been to me – from the simple things like a new puppy to a fantastic house in which to live to meaningful work…all comes from His hand.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.

The last few days in Baker have been amazingly warm and temperate for this time of year…what we thought would be an early onset winter, complete with ice and snow and plows and chains, has turned out to be a lovely fall.  I have so enjoyed not totally bundling up every day, and not freezing all day long.  But even when the days turn frigid and I long for the warmth of spring, I have to remember that God set in motion the seasons, gave us day and night, seeded the earth with all forms of beautiful and often entertaining life (just watch my pets in action!), and called it all good.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

“I see Jesus in you, I see Jesus in you; in your eyes, and all that you do, I see Jesus in you.”  I have so many dear ones in my life about whom I can sing that…too long to list…how about you?  When was the last time you looked at your spouse/sibling/parent/friend and recognized the light and image of Christ in them?

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

Today I’m not preparing a huge Thanksgiving meal, for which I am utterly grateful; we are blessed to be able to go out and pay someone else to feed us.  As I write this, I’m sitting in a gorgeous old home that I love, knowing that my husband is upstairs (wondering why on earth his wife is not in bed with him – he’s not much for insomnia). I have a list of friends and family to whom I will send a “Happy Thanksgiving” message to in just a few minutes, people that I know I can turn to in times of joy and sorrow, people that surround me with love and prayer and share my laughter and my tears.  But I have to think, too, of those who don’t share that experience – I should never, never, NEVER whine – about anything; I am far too blessed.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

Does it ever strike you funny that God entrusts His work to us?  That He has placed within our minds the capability to plan and create and implement; places us in networks of people who rely on us for not only physical, but emotional and spiritual support; and opens doors of opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World?  “You’re the only Jesus some will ever see, you’re the only words of life some will ever read” (The Imperials).  What an amazing amount of trust we have been given…

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

I get up every morning, before the the sun, on work days and days off, and start a long list of to-dos.  Some are enjoyable, some are tedious.  Regardless, I rarely have to take a sick day and I am still, even in middle-age, amazingly strong and capable.  It is a wonder, and I am so thankful.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

At the same time, so many go through their days with difficulty.  I used to work in Child Welfare – talk about patient in suffering.  First responders, social workers, medical personnel, our military…day in and day out of YUCK.  Yet we wouldn’t have a functional society without their dedication.  I think I’m going to go hug my veteran…

 
For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

I hope we’re all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice.  Today, take a few moments to think about how you can promote these things in your own little corner of the world.  And thank your spiritual leader(s) the next time you see him/her/them.  It’s sometimes quite exhausting to search the Scriptures and exhort the flock of Christ to better things…
For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

The communion of saints – living and dead.  I am surrounded by saints on earth and know that those who have gone before continue to surround me with prayer and encouragement, encircling me with a cloud of witness that strengthens me to run my earthly race.

 
Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;

My husband – God bless him! – often gets on my for not giving him time to answer the question I just asked before asking another one, or completing the task I requested before hounding him about it (I really am quite the nag when left unchecked). Just the other day I was reading in Lamentations, written by Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet.”  In the middle of all that doom and gloom, I came across this:  “It is good that a man (or woman, or child, or anyone) should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:26).  That really convicted me – I am so unwilling to “hope and quietly wait” for Jesus to fulfill His promises – I want everything RIGHT. NOW.  So I made my own little covenant, in that moment:

Lamentations

(If you don’t keep a Scripture and devotional journal…try visiting The Holy Mess for some great ideas and even a free kit!  It’s not what I use, but Sara has some great tools for making your studies exciting and personally relevant!)

To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

AMEN!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Not Afraid…

I have a confession to make: five nights ago (April 3) will mark the first time I cracked open my Scriptures since MARCH 7.  My resolution to read through the entire Old and New Testaments has been seriously challenged as of late.  Oh, I could cite so many valid (to me) reasons for this: grad school end-of-term chaos, getting my grades caught up and posted for mid-term progress reports in my day job, utter exhaustion from just having way too much on my plate…but really?  Here’s the actual reason:

2 KINGS.

Yes, I made it through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, surprisingly.  I made it through the Israelites’ conquest of Canaan and all the judges, the exciting history of Israel’s first monarchy, the ups and downs of David’s reign, and the aftermath of his egregious sin with Bathsheba.  But by 2 Kings?  My brain just couldn’t take anymore long names!  And one night of being “too tired” to crack open those five chapters was enough to arrest it indefinitely.

 

I don’t know what it was that inspired me to pick up my Bible before bed and pick up reading, but I did.  (Well, yeah, there’s the Holy Spirit.  Touche.) Right where I left off in the middle of horrible Israelite rulers, people who couldn’t remain faithful to their covenant with God, and invading armies that never gave them any peace.  The same stuff that rather made me zone out and abandon my plan before…but I kept reading, all the way to the story of King Hezekiah.  One of the few decent rulers who at least attempted to follow the Lord, he himself struggled with similar issues as I.  Specifically, when he was facing the armies of the Assyrian king, Shalmeneser, he was dumbstruck as one of the enemy’s spokesmen came with this message (roughly translated for you, the modern reader):

“Yo, Hezekiah! Just who do you think you believe in? I’ve conquered the WHOLE WORLD – where is this god you put your trust in?”

And Hezekiah wilted.

I often wilt. I wilt when people – especially people I love – attack and ridicule my belief in and love for God, when they attribute all of what I consider absolute proof of His existence and love for me (and everyone else, for that matter) coincidence, fantasy, brainwashing, mental instability, yada yada yada… it just makes me quake in my shoes and ties my tongue.  Eyes get pretty damp, too.  I’ll bet Hezekiah was feeling pretty damp…

After he wilted, though, he consulted the prophet.  Not just any prophet, the prophet of prophets.  The overly-eloquent, poetry-addicted, succintness-is-not-my-style prophet, the prophet who’s words continue to shake hearers to their souls (although we don’t always understand why…):

ISAIAH.

Actually, you should say his name like this: “I-SAI-ah!”  Use your best James Earl Jones voice for it.  There, you got it.

And here’s what I-SAI-ah! said:

Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

Don’t be afraid.

What?  This loudmouthed, arrogant, know-it-all Assyrian king is mouthing off all over the place, roaring like a rabid hyena and causing all sorts of bedlam and distress, and all God has to say is “Don’t be afraid?”

It kind of reminds me of that Disney cartoon, The Three Little Pigs, with the wolf hollering: “I’m gonna huff and puff and blow your house in!”

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And all Hezekiah got was a “Do not be afraid.”

Then I guess that’s the answer: do not be afraid.  So there are those who don’t believe and holler and bluster and call you addled? Do not be afraid.  So you don’t always have a witty answer that will shut their mouths and give you the last word of victory? Do not be afraid.  And if you keep reading, you’ll see that God assures Hezekiah that Shalmeneser will get his.  And history tells us that, although he was successful in sacking Samaria and exiling those in the Northern Kingdom, he did not succeed in taking down Jerusalem. In fact, the prophecy that “I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” was fulfilled in 722 AD when his brother killed him and seized the crown.

So, be not afraid. Haters are gonna hate.  Be not afraid. God has my back, as He has the backs of all who put their trust in Him.

Here’s one of my favorite songs I listen to when that fear and anxiety threatens to overwhelm me; thank you, David Haas:

 

Be not afraid. He will bring you Home. He loves you and you are His. Be not afraid.

Oh, and get back to the Scriptures…who knows what the next chapter has?

 

 

New Every Morning

I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, right about the time that hippie-style “Jesus Folk” music was becoming a staple in *gulp* dare I say it? – stodgy – mainline, evangelical churches.  Hymnals were being replaced by songsheets and the occasional overhead projection; organs, pianos, and, in our case, brass bands were being supplemented (not replaced) by guitars; and defined song selections gave way to pick-your-favorite sing-a-longs (this was, you realize, years before “seeker-sensitive” and super-tech-savvy productions happened; we still hadn’t become production-oriented).

At the time, it was all very hip and wonderful.  Now, though, as a solidly middle-aged person who has run the church gamut multiple times, I tend to gravitate toward the grander hymns of the faith and have to admit, nothing stirs my soul like a well-played organ (especially if that organ is playing Kingsfold or something else by Ralph Vaughn Williams).  Nonetheless, there are some of those “pick-your-favorite” sing-a-long songs that, on occasion, really stir my soul.  Here’s one of them:

Today was just such a day.  Started yesterday, actually.  Maybe it’s the “late-winter-bucket-of-suck” time of year, maybe it’s the grad school schedule I’m pulling on top of full-time-plus work, maybe it’s the 20 pounds I’ve packed on since September, maybe it’s all of those things.  Whatever it is, I’m tired.  So, so very tired. Waiting for this particular season (meteorological, professional, spiritual, personal…again, whatever…) to pass and for spring to bloom in my heart and mind and soul and, for Pete’s sake, in my yard!  Right before I went to sleep, as I was getting in my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year chapters (5 on a good day, 15 on a catch-up day; that was last night), this is what popped up on my phone:

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Timely, right?  Nonetheless, I cried myself to sleep, praying, “Hasten the day, Father…please, hasten the day.”

Now, if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll remember that, on occasion, I’ve been known to treat Facebook posts like fortune cookies.  Sometimes, it’s amusing; other times, it’s absolutely uncanny.  This morning has been uncanny.  First, while I was slapping on my pretty-for-the-public face:

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Just like a 19th-century preacher to slap me in the face.  They were good at that, you know. (Smith Wigglesworth smacked a corpse – well, kind of threw it against a wall – it got up and went home.  True story.)  But let’s not leave it to revivalists; here’s what came from, for cryin’ out loud, Toby Mac:

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My season of waiting.  Waiting for spring – new life, new purpose, new vision, new hope – to burst through the cold, unyielding, frozen ground of winter.  But winter is when all that life gathers energy to explode at just the right time.  And while I wait, I must remember that the Lord Himself is renewing my strength…not to run forward, but to wait.  The mounting up, and the running, and the walking all come after the waiting.

When I was in the 4th and 5th grades, I attended a little Christian school where we had chapel every morning.  One of the “pick-your-favorite sing-a-long” songs we sang frequently was a musical setting of Isaiah 40:31.  The emphasis wasn’t on mounting up, or running, or walking.  Look at the lyric structure and notice how it begins and ends:

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength:

They shall mount up with wings as eagles,

They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.

The emphasis is on not the forward or upward or explosive motion, it’s on the waiting.  In waiting on God is our strength renewed.  And in remembering this, I feel my strength and resolve and joy being renewed.  It’s like Proverbs 15:23 says so beautifully: “A man hath joy by the answers of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”

God’s word to me today  – word spoken in due season – is truly good, and His mercies, so tender and compassionate and tailor-made for me, are new every morning!  Great is His faithfulness!

 

Alone…or not? In the Wilderness

I’ve been thinking a lot about the wilderness lately.  I live in a wilderness, first of all; Eastern Oregon, other than some fairly nicely developed, habitable areas, is little more than a sagebrush-laden wasteland (Virtue Flats, anyone?) It’s through this wilderness that those hardy pioneers traveled while blazing what we now know, and somewhat revere, as the “Oregon Trail”.

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Virtue Flats in Baker County, Oregon. What scenery…

I can imagine the excitement and joy those pioneers felt as they  egan their trek. Oh, the happy, joyful songs of anticipation they sang while leaving the East…but those songs soon turned into silence as feet got tired, food ran low, people got sick, and little rock mounds marked those who weren’t going to make it to their promised land, the West. No, eventually, the excitement of the journey became just a stalwart putting one foot in front of another, day in, day out, hoping against hope that “the West” would present itself soon.  I wonder if I’ll ever feel clean…or rested…or full…or hopeful…again.

But those weren’t the first pioneers.  The first pioneers I know of were the Israelites.  Miraculously delivered from Egypt in a blaze of drama and excitement and heart-stopping, neck-breaking motion (go read Exodus or, second best, watch The Ten Commandments), they saw, first-hand, the mighty power of God working on their behalf.  They would follow Him anywhere!  They would walk with Him through the wilderness to the Promised Land…

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The Sinai wilderness.  Image source: https://claudemariottini.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/sinai-wilderness.jpg

…they didn’t even make it 2 weeks before they grew disheartened (now, read Exodus; this part isn’t in the movie). Little did they know they would be sojourning in this loveliness for forty years.  The Promised Land, I’m sure, became little more than a fairy tale for their children to hang onto as they trudged, day after day, one foot in front of the other, wondering if they’d really heard what they thought they’d heard, seen what they thought they had seen, believed what they thought they believed.  I wonder if I’ll ever feel at home again…

It’s been cold this winter in Baker County…bitterly cold; the kind of cold that settles into your bones and doesn’t leave, no matter how many blankets you pile on top of yourself.  It’s the kind of cold that makes you want to stay in bed long past the alarm clock and crawl back into bed at 7:oo pm.  I think I rather wish I could sleep away the winter and wake up when the six feet of snow outside my house has yielded to some happy little tulips.  These snowy, grey, cold days just keep going though…and sometimes I wonder if I will ever feel warm again.

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One of my favorite “Fowl Language Comics”.  Visit their page at: https://www.instagram.com/fowllanguagecomics

But it’s not just the cold that has gotten me feeling like that lately; it’s the silence. There have been times in my life when God has bent over backwards to show me His love, to make sure I hear His voice, to make His plan so plain that there’s no mistaking Him!  Those times are exciting and full of sparkling wonder. I wake up in the morning with songs of praise bursting out of my mouth, bounce through the day, and then go to bed with prayers and tears of gratitude overflowing.  It’s beautiful.  I love those times.

But these are not those times.  This time is the silent time.  The grey time.  The time when I simply have to trudge through the daily monotony of living without angels and visions and mind-blowing revelation. It’s at these times that I have to just keep putting one foot in front of another, trusting that God is God and His Word will stand.  He will keep His promises, regardless if I “feel” it from one day to the next.

But He does punctuate the silence…today’s tender mercy was a Scripture that popped out of nowhere onto my computer screen:

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Right when I need it the most, He whispers. No great light show, no booming voice from heaven, no divine GPS or Google map to reassure me that, although the wilderness seems unending, I am going in the right direction.

Just a nudge. Just a whisper. Just enough Presence for me to know that I am not alone.

And the trudge is lightened, just a bit.

What a tender mercy!

Shiny!

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Today is the day, the first day of 2017 CE.  Common Era.  I love how they tried to eliminate the whole BC-Before Christ and AD – Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord), but really, what makes the Common Era, common?  The division is still delineated by none other than the history changing presence of Jesus Christ on the earth. The world can try to erase His existence and ongoing influence…they can try all they want…

Moving on, today is the first of January in the year of our Lord Two Thousand Seventeen.  And I absolutely welcome it.  I’m not just wishing happy new year in a trite, habitual manner; no, I absolutely welcome 2017, red carpet rolled out and eyes bright with anticipation at what this year will bring.

Some people might say, “Yeah, I’m glad it’s here, too; couldn’t wait to say sayonara to 2016!”  That’s really not my case. I am thrilled with the prospects of 2017 because of what the Lord brought to me during 2016. My heart is so filled with gratitude and thrilled to watch His hand at work in my life and in the lives of others – it was a truly fantastic year!

What was so fantastic? Well…

…My spiritual life – my understanding of God as my Heavenly Father and my ongoing relationship with Him through Jesus Christ – has become stronger. After years of wandering in a spiritual netherland, not really knowing what I believed or why or if I did at all, 2015 and then 2016 became an ongoing adventure in hearing God’s voice and learning to obey.  I’ve experienced obedience as the way to my truest freedom and, although I’ve a long way to go in the trust department, I’ve learned far more readily trust my Father, even when I don’t understand what’s happening at the moment.

…My professional life has been growing in leaps and bounds. Again, starting in 2015, I experienced what can only be described as a miraculous, midlife career change, transitioning from social work to music education.  There have been some major challenges along the way – re-entering grad school and, after only one year, a sudden, very unexpected transfer from primary to secondary music – but each of these challenges is forcing me to more fully rely on God (F.R.O.G.) day by day and is helping shape me into someone that looks a bit more like His Son.

…My personal life: when I see where God has brought me over the last two years (yes, one more time, going back to 2015) in my family relationships and friendships, I stand utterly amazed.  There were times when I didn’t think our marriage would survive…we celebrated 19 years in August! We bought our first (and last, I think) house together two months ago! I can look at my husband today and truly confess that I love him more than any other human on this planet…and that’s only because God has so beautifully healed my once utterly broken heart and psyche.  And in so doing, He has surrounded me with a web of precious brothers and sisters in Christ that pray with me, laugh with me, and mourn with me.  And as they have borne my stretcher, dropping me into the direct presence of that Great Physician, I have found myself able to bear some of their burdens, as well.

2016 was a year of beauty, healing, and growth. Regardless of the difficulties along the way, I can only say, “Thank you, Father, for a great year…that and better will do!”

Happy New Year, and a hearty welcome to 2017!

 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness…in 2016 and Beyond

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”  (Genesis 8:22).

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We’ve done it. Yet again, we’ve made one more trip around the sun. Millions of people are, as I type this, celebrating with friends and family in a variety of ways; some are at clubs with food and wine, others are in private homes with board and card games, and some are even at the odd church that may still hold a Watch Night Service, praying in the New Year. Outside my window someone has just set off fireworks. Some folks are glad to see 2016 fade into history, hoping for a better trip this time around; others look back and say, “Not bad…not bad at all.” Balls will drop, Auld Lang Syne will be sung and kisses will be exchanged; people will drive home either very carefully or carelessly, depending on the amount of alcohol they have drunk, and hopefully, tomorrow morning, there will be few or no reports of injuries as a result of too much revelry. Regardless of anything that happens tonight, tomorrow will go on, much as today has and much as yesterday did, as the days, weeks, months, years did before them…

But for us, a new calendar is exciting. Unlike my cat, who is so very present in the now (Now I want petted, Now I want food, Now I want your side of the bed) and, to my knowledge, has no recognition of the passage of time or of the differentiation between years, people have, for all recorded history, marked time.  Before calendars, we watched the weather patterns and ordered our lives around the changing of seasons, each solstice and equinox celebrated with great joy and festivities.  Different developments of marking time are still present; religious communities follow a yearly pattern, as do societies, and the celebration of the New Year is, at least in the western world, one of the most significant.  Somehow, the turning of the metaphorical page from one year to the next gives us hope of forgetting what has been painful, and whets our appetite for better things to come.  Reflecting on the last 12 months inspires many of us to make grand resolutions for self-improvement and, even those grand intentions have gone completely flat by January 31, the very act of making them indicates their importance to us as a people.

Does God mark the New Year?  God, as I understand Him, stands outside of time, being omnipresent, present in our past, present, and future simultaneously, able to behold the end from the beginning and all points in between.  Fortunately for you, I am not going to try to explain that particular phenomenon; some things are best left a mystery.  I do know that God understands time, and recognizes its importance to us.  I was reading the story of Noah earlier this week, and God’s promise in Genesis 8:22 jumped out at me: no matter how crazy things get, the world will keep turning.  The sun will set, the sun will rise, there will be evening. and morning, and another day…

I’ve been amazed at how many people have posted on social media how they just can’t wait for 2016 to be over: multiple celebrity deaths, a chaotic and difficult U.S. presidential race, catastrophe and calamity, poor decision, poor outcomes, yada yada yada…but the world will keep turning.  Nothing about changing a digit on the year designation is going to alter the normal procession of life.  Babies will be born, people will die, nations will rise and fall…but day and night will not cease.  Until God deigns it so, the world will not end, and I take great comfort in that.

For me, 2016 was fantastic – maybe tomorrow I’ll reflect on all of the wonderful things God did in my life. When I wake up in the morning, God will not have mysteriously disappeared, taking all His blessings with Him. No, I will wake up as I always do, still safely tucked under my Father’s wings and hearing Him sing over me.  Because as long as the earth is, and as long as I have breath, He will remain faithful.

I can’t think of a better way to bid farewell to 2016 and welcome 2017 than by singing the hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (Thomas Chisholm, William Runyan):

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with thee.

Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not; as thou has been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Summer and winter and seedtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above

Join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth; thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide.

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow; blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness, morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided; great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.