Each of these partitioned cycles seems ever to burn away more rapidly than the one previous and I am, once again, thrust forward into another year of promise filled with uncertainty, plans, hopes, and aspirations for myself, my bride, and our children. But in the disorientation of the loss of one year and the rapid entry of a another, one can feel lost without bearing - uncertain as to next steps. Before me is the great "promised land" of my life, yet at times, the direction or the sheer magnitude of the horizon is daunting. It is here that I am reminded of Abraham as he sojourned towards God's promises for his family and the generations to come. Next to his unshakable faith, one of the most poignant things about Abraham that stands out in my mind is that he never forgot where he came from and where he was going. He was a builder of milestones.
Throughout the book of Genesis we read that Abraham built altars for various reasons. Some altars were built where he received a word of promise from God. Some were built where he sought the Lord out. Some were built where he simply wished to praise Him. Some were built as tokens of remembrance. All were milestones. All marked a time, an event, a critical point of contact between the divine and the terrestrial in which God was present and He moved. One was even built where God tested his faith by instructing Abraham to offer his only son - a picture of events yet to happen.
These altars/milestones were not points that Abraham stopped and ceased moving forward at. He did not take up permanent residence next to the location where God spoke a promise to him or moved in a certain manner to bless him. Rather, each of them was a marker, a point of reflection. Further, each of them pointed to where he was headed. Each of us has probably heard the saying that if you want to know where a man is going, simply look where he has been - this was no more true than with Abraham and he had the markers to prove it. So do you.
I've been inundated with top ten lists of 2012 and frankly I was hesitant to venture down this path - but for me, I need to remember some of the altars/milestones of 2012. The following are highlights and teachable moments from my own writings and experiences that are intended for my reflection. They are my altars, for my benefit, my stones of note. If they bless others, I am happy for this, but if they simply act to cause me to reset, refocus, pause and be thankful then they have achieved the intended purpose. These are my top ten of 2012.
"Every one of us has empty bowls. They are the unfulfilled notions or dreams that we were certain to be the direction and calling of our lives...Empty bowls are a reminder of blessings stolen, of plans destroyed, of dreams killed...So we stack them, silent reminders of the unfulfilled...God doesn't want us to keep our cupboards filled with our trophies of defeat. He wants us to let Him show us how to use them for His glory."
- Empty Bowls
"What kind of children are we if we ask for abundant life and provision and then demand that this all powerful and unstoppable God who knows our hearts better than we do, knows our capabilities better than we do, and knows the ways in which we need to grow better than we do - what kind of children are we to say "PLEASE PROVIDE" and then slap His hand away when He does just because it doesn't fit our preconceived notion of what that provision should look like or our timetable?"
-Peace on the Roller Coaster
"Victory doesn't always get a parade. Wars won don't always get a celebration. But this does not diminish the true eternal value of the effort nor the necessity of our following after our Father with reckless abandon because we're not living for just this "here and now".
- Silent Parades
"This is the wreckage of realization that most people in our society, even within our churches simply acknowledge Jesus' words as good ideas without acknowledging Him as the Lord who is commanding obedience to follow His example...Our greatest potential and fulfillment is in Him"
-Re-Entry and Wreckage
"To tell children who have recently lost their parents to AIDS 'your problems are momentary but they are producing an eternal glory' is hollow if I cannot carry that back to my life...God's Word requires a paradigm shift when witnessed in action"
- Corduroy and Trust
"When I see the thorns...I am reminded that...If we only love safely, if we only risk little, if we only live sparingly, if we only stay on the 'safe paths', then we will lose the beauty of what God has in store for each of us."
- Beauty in the Thorns
"When we learn to...lay down ourselves for others, learn to love others as Christ loved, we will find our vision sharpened, our horizons expanded, and our perceptions of reality much more clear."
-A Broken View
"Many of us have scars on our hearts. Many are closed over festering wounds that plague us still...Some have kept us from approaching a risen Savior and Holy God for the shame of what lies beneath. Jesus understands what it is to to turn heartache to victory, pain to triumph. Forgiveness is His model for the release of infection, confession His antiseptic for healing."
- Trophy Scars
"When His Word proceeds from our mouths, life is brought forth, hearts are restored, people are met in their lack and their lack is overwhelmed by His provision and love...When our words flow from the abundance of fear, frustration, or anger the sword cuts viciously...creating further damage in accordance with Hell's designs. In our strength and limitation, we bring destruction,. in His we bring life."
- Sharpening the Sword
"There are sure to be gifts in the opening and healing of damaged hearts...It is a difficult and challenging road to embark upon and expectations have a way of forcibly changing in the journey but the reward of rescuing hearts and seeing a future brought to life in small eyes where only dull 'survival-ism' previously existed far out-ways the risks"
- Family Tree
May God keep you and richly bless you in 2013.