“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. ~ Philippians 1:6 NLT
Have you had a birthday recently? Did you think, “I am getting old!”? I have!
A few weekends ago I had the privilege of attending an international women’s conference. Perhaps the speaker who touched me the most presented on the last day. She is an 82-year-old Australian missionary and prophetic teacher, Royree Jensen. Her quick mind, youthful posture and movements somehow belied her white hair and the wrinkles on her face. She kept us laughing till the tears ran down our cheeks. Who says growing old and finishing well has to be a serious topic? As she spoke, I felt younger and younger. Besides Royree’s talk, the same day they had pointed out that three of the principle organizers and world renown speakers were seventy years old.
As we grow older, loss seems to characterize more of our lives. Royree stressed that all of us will suffer losses in our lives. She also told us, “Loss is a part of our legacy, but not our destiny.” We should learn not to focus on what or who was lost, rather on “the leftovers”. Those who are stuck focusing on the past and what has been lost die a little with each loss. We should exhort each other, “Don’t die before you are dead!” She insisted that life is always in the leftovers. Focus on those and live into them.
In 2 Kings 4 a widow of one of the prophets asks Elisha for help. She and her two sons were about to starve to death. Elisha asked what she had. “Nothing at all except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. He ordered her to borrow as many containers as she could, then begin pour the leftover oil into them. The flask continued to pour out oil until she ran out of containers. We can trust the Lord to fill the emptiness of loss when we surrender it to him.
Maybe you are feeling that you are the leftover as the rush of life’s activity roars by you. Remember we all will experience loss, the loss of a loved one, the loss of our health, the loss of financial security, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of our confidence that God can meet our needs. If that’s not you, look around you. Someone you know needs your encouragement. She needs to hear she is not too old, too ill, too isolated. Tell her not to let her joy and her life’s purpose die before she is dead. Our God always has a plan to redeem, to restore and to breathe new life into dried up places.
Dear friends, be blessed as you choose not to allow your age nor your losses define your identity. Your loving Lord, who died to give you new life, and knows you best, has plans to use you. He has gone to a lot of trouble to tenderize you in tribulations and disappointments so he can use what’s left over in you to further his Kingdom and to give him the glory of your testimony. Smile and choose to live into your destiny. Amen.
Mary Sumner ~May 23, 2023
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid
and do not panic before them.
For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you.
He will neither fail you nor abandon you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT
At the start of this year, I felt the Lord call me to new heights in my relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit gave me Colossians 3:1-3 as my verse of the year and I felt the Spirit tell me that this year would be one to break down the strongholds that have kept me from knowing Christ more deeply. I prayed a bold prayer over this year that went like this:
“Please, Holy Spirit, come into my heart and mind and help me to keep both set on Christ. Heal the brokenness in me that keeps me from experiencing all the good and perfect gifts that Christ has for me- especially himself.”
I was soaring spiritually when I prayed this prayer and forgot that healing brokenness is often painful and isolating. I’ve spent the last months feeling more and more defeated as the trials continue to come, and only just realized that God may be answering my prayer. I’ve been relying solely on myself instead of looking to Christ for help.
When we take our eyes off Christ and focus on the giants in front of us, it’s easy to become downcast and defeated. If you’re there right now, you’re not alone. Hear the cries of Psalm 42:9, “” O God my rock,” I cry, “why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?””. Pain is isolating when we face it alone, but the beautiful truth is that we don’t have to. We have a great high priest who knows our struggles, who endured far more pain than we can even comprehend, who sympathizes with us and draws near to us.
God promises us in Deuteronomy 31:6 that he will “personally go ahead of us. He will neither fail us nor abandon us.” When the road you’re walking feels lonely and more than you can bear, when it feels like there is no hope left, claim Psalm 42:11, “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again- my Savior and my God.” He is the hand holding yours as you walk through the tunnel of darkness, and He is the light at the end of the tunnel that calls you forward.
Friends, be blessed to become all God created you to be as you surrender everything to God, especially your fears. I bless you with strength and courage so that you can face your giants with confidence, trusting in the Lord who personally goes before you into battle. You will never be left alone; you will never be forsaken. Claim victory over fear and hopelessness as you “hold tightly without wavering to the hope you affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise,” (Heb 10:23).
Claire Savageau – May 9, 2023