I hope you had a lovely Christmas. I got a Fitbit and have logged between ten and twelve thousand steps each day. Getting a head start on 2017 — please pray I keep it up! Yesterday Will and I celebrated twenty-one years of marriage. We spent the day at this lovely beach.
Then we had dinner at the best hole-in-the-wall seafood place on the planet. So despite the seeming surge of celebrity deaths and the hostile political climate, I am not among those bemoaning 2016 as a horrendous year. As always, we ALL have too many blessings to count, and I can say that with confidence because I know very intimately the profound sadness of lives cut short. Give thanks in all circumstances is the call of the believer, and it’s not conditional. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
In fact, the obscuring of biblical clarity is what I found most discouraging about 2016. More and more professing Christians are abandoning the clear teaching of Scripture. The irony that it is the exact scenario from the Garden of Eden is lost on the masses who continue to say, “Did God really say?” More than the untimely deaths of people I only knew through the screen or music, more than a person who holds, or doesn’t hold, a job on Pennsylvania, the heretical trends of 2016 are what I find disturbing. My prayer is that you too have alarms and sirens that blare in your head when you read or hear the words, “that’s not what God meant” or “that’s not how I read Scripture” or “there’s different views on that.”
Not to say there aren’t gray areas. Of course there are! But the areas newly declared “gray”by some influential voices of 2016 are anything but.
It is actually an issue of pride. Can we accept, even without always understanding, that God’s Word is Truth? Can we submit that He knows better than we do? There’s freedom in surrender. We don’t have to try to figure it all out. We don’t have to provide all the answers. We just have to trust Him. Still it seems fewer and fewer of the dominant voices in Christian culture are able to take any stand at all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship about the transformation of Abraham’s faith when he took Isaac up to Mount Moriah. Abraham “accepts the call as it comes; he will not shirk it or ‘spiritualize’ it. He takes God at his word and is ready to obey. Against every direct claim upon him, whether natural, ethical or religious, he will be obedient to the Word of God.”
Despite the noise and pressures of our culture may I seek to know God’s Word and to be obedient to it. As we close out 2016, this is my prayer.
Love to each of you in the New Year!
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV