Both of my early 2021 devotions in The Upper Room centered on personal life events where I was blessed by Almighty God.
In fact, I suppose all UR devotionals are written so another person might understand how we writers have each encountered our Heavenly Father’s amazing truths in our daily lives.
Personally, I found the exercise of penning such devotionals was itself a blessing — one that caused me to think about my joyous Christian experiences more deeply than I had before. It is like the clarity you gain by keeping a diary or a journal of your experiences: you come to know and feel those experiences more wisely. You actually find a greater understanding of what God did for you during the past by putting it down on paper.
However, not long after those devotionals were originally drafted, my life took an unexpected detour. I experienced a stroke and retired from the ministry at age 75. I grasped my new metal cane and quietly limped out “to pasture,” as they say — but that dormant state was happily not to last. God re-crafted those struggling times for my good in many unanticipated ways. The greatest way was to give me a new mission in Christ by calling me, almost audibility, to launch a new church from scratch!
Launching into such a call is daunting, to state the obvious. Finding a few core members, finding finances, and meeting the thousand other needs that loomed before our little launch group’s Godly intentions... all these roadblocks constantly delayed the final fulfillment.
I then came to understand another blessing: I realized that the new church’s completion was not my real goal each day. You see, each day’s journey is in fact a more imminent destination for receiving God’s many blessings. Each small step toward something good far off in the future, like our new church, makes our faith and hope to grow. New enemies have to be loved, and new deficiencies in our fleshly resources must be bravely faced — today.
These interim paces toward the final destination demand our ever-greater dependence on God. Without yet seeing the promised end point, they are right now, true, internal and eternal blessings that strengthen our souls.
So whenever my journey happens to encounter Satan’s pesky side-tracks and the many challenges to my egotistical time tables, I become even more spiritually resolute. I am also merrier of heart, joyously depending on my Creator for small but important victories each day. Proverbs 15:15 is my newest favorite Bible verse: “He that is of a merry heart hath a continuous feast” (KJV).
You might like to know that our embryonic church, by the grace of God, is indeed slowly coming into reality, and by the same Grace will continue its progress. But better yet, I will meanwhile be enjoying a heaven-blessed banquet.
Whatever you, dear reader, may be pining for in the future, may you victoriously accomplish it in part today with God’s close guidance: feasting always on God’s holy blessings with a continuously merry heart.
P.S. Our new church recently chose a happy name: “Holy Feast Bible Church!”
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”