In a way, the world is a great liar…At the end it gives its greatest tributes to generosity, honesty, courage, mercy, talents well used, talents that, brought into the world, make it better. That’s what we talk about in eulogies, because that’s what’s important. Peggy Noonan
I hardly ever tweet on my personal account. I think it is because I am too wordy and Twitter is so restrictive. But I did tweet recently that I was reading way too many books at once. I frustrate myself. This reading multiple books at once is a habit I have developed in my old age. In my younger years, I would never have started a second book until I finished the first. I am not sure whether it is because my attention span is shorter than it used to be or because I am less OCD about everything than I used to be, but it is what it is, as they say. One of my very favorites at the moment is Peggy Noonan’s The Time of Our Lives. It is a treasure trove of her Wall Street Journal columns over the past decade and a half. Peggy definitely sees the world through the lens of one who loves the Lord. The column she wrote about the New York firemen who fought valiantly to save lives in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 is one of my favorites.
She speaks in simple but heartfelt words about these men whose names and wallet-sized photos appeared each day in the New York Times in the weeks after the attack. Something about faces and names brought the tragedy to a very personal level for her. To say that 343 firemen died when the buildings collapsed is certainly sad, but to see pictures and names and read obituaries of those young men who were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers with abbreviated lives who had purposes and duties and the same priorities and dreams that most of us have—well, that put a whole new face on the story. These were very real, flesh and blood, like you and me kind of people.
I think that concept is very much applicable to our cover story this month. Jason Stoker was the shaker and mover leading a small group of Believers at Pinelake’s Starkville campus when they developed a genuine concern for orphans. There is an orphan crisis of gargantuan proportions around the world, but Botswana, Africa, due to the AIDS epidemic, is the orphan capital of the world. When some of those members of the suddenly aware small group took a trip to Botswana in 2013, they met flesh and blood children who had names and faces and personalities—and God put a passion in their hearts that was so powerful they knew they were being called to do something they had no idea how they were going to do. Nobody, except someone God called, would be able to put together this Reclaimed Ministry and look back and see the changed lives that have occurred because of their passion and their obedience. I had a hard time condensing this story at all. Be sure to check out the links I provided so that you can get a bigger picture.
I have noticed just in my little magazine how true it is that God does not call the equipped—but His grace is sufficient, and He indeed equips the called. Look back at the New Testament and look at those eleven men Jesus entrusted with spreading the gospel to the whole world. There were no “Ivy League” resumes in the group. If you need proof that if God is in it—the rest doesn’t matter, then look no further. Our upside down world tends to get it totally backwards.
There is never a better time than now, as we begin this New Year, to “encourage ourselves in the Lord.” I love the King David story in 1 Samuel 30—I think I have said that before. It bears repeating. David had every reason to despair because it did look like the enemy had won. Before he gave up and forsook everything he believed, he “encouraged himself in the Lord.” That made all the difference.
We serve an eternal God who “changes not” (Malachi 3:6). In this impermanent world where every new day brings news of a terrorist attack, a congressional battle in our nation’s capital that leaves us weak and rattled, or just the economic news of instability that seems more than a little threatening to our resources, it is a very comforting and reassuring thing to encourage ourselves in the verity of His word and the certainty that no matter what happens in the interim, our God is still in charge. He is able. And we are blessed to be His.
So, it is not too hard to say in all sincerity, “Happy New Year!” Amen and amen!
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31