Author: Laura Sumpter
Turning the page of the proverbial book of life is a lot like jumping. The fear that comes with the unknown, coupled with the excitement of saying goodbye to the bad while lingering in the sweetness of saying hello to the good can send butterflies through even the most adventurous of souls.
There are times in our lives that we want to hang on tight to the way things are, to lean in and freeze frame life. We try to cling to all the lessons, dreams, and joy we find along the way. We want the hello to the peace these hopes bring to never end. Since this life is ever changing, there are other times,when we want to run, hide, fight and cut all the cords that bind us fast and threaten to take away every ounce of energy we can find. We want that goodbye to be short, quick, and barely a glimpse in the rearview mirror.
Entering this new year, this January, and this new decade, has brought mixed emotions to my mind. The passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus is gently talking with his disciples and teaching them continues to ring in my ears, “Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”(Matthew 6:25-26, ESV).
Here is Christ’s call to every human’s heart. We are of great value to Him, more so than any other being that He has created. We are loved and cherished and provided for at our deepest need. The God of the universe came down to this tainted world to be with us and bring us hope for our future. We can live at rest and let Him be God.
January is a time, long thought of as a place to set goals, reflect on the past, and look forward to what is to come. That page of the past, in this chapter, in my personal book of life, has looked a lot like heartache and loss. There have been seasons of deep despair and grief that I didn’t know a human heart could endure. I have stood at the graveside of family members taken too soon and tragically. I have sat in chemo wards with family and friends and walked out of them with those same family and friends. I have grown and been stretched to points I thought I would break in my marriage, parenting, and unexpected career changes.
Despite these hard and difficult circumstances, God has been ever-present. I have seen Him perform miracles. I have watched Him walk on water to me in my storm. I have witnessed Him standing by gravesides whispering comfort. I have watched Him as I celebrated over answered prayers, and I have grown to love Him deeper.
My faith has been stretched to a place of truly understanding that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV).
Frances Chan, in his book You and Me Forever, makes the comment that in our lives, “There is Jesus and then there is everything else”. My focus has often been trying to put into order what my priorities are. But the true beat of my heart and the longing that I, and I suspect many, are looking for is that quiet assurance that God is able, close, and ever-present. That focusing solely on Jesus brings the joy and peace that this busy, loud, crazy world is searching for frantically.
I don’t know what these next few years will bring into my life. None of us do. We have our hopes and dreams and wishes, but the real treasure is found in saying goodbye to that which negatively binds and saying hello to that which holds true and long. What is it for you? What has your attention this coming year? What treasure is your heart holding?
The Lord made a promise to Jeremiah and the country of Israel many years ago that can encourage even the weariest of souls today. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3) The love of Jesus and the sweet hope that we have in our lives, no matter what may come, is a hello worth clinging to.
Laura Sumpter is a native of the Pacific Northwest. She has been a teacher for over 20 years and she loves teaching children and women of all ages how to practically apply Scripture. She counts her husband and three children as the greatest blessings of her life. When she is not writing or teaching you can find her at the beach, in her garden, decorating her home, or playing with her family. Laura lives each day believing that God is faithful, no matter the circumstance. She desires to express the deep and satisfying hope that only Jesus can bring. You can find the lessons God is teaching her at her blog for-this-reason.org or on Instagram.