A New Year’s note to self
Two years ago in this space, I wrote about how I tend to let fear of imperfection keep me from moving forward in God’s will.
Anybody else take a long time to learn stuff? Let’s just say this month’s editor’s letter is addressed to myself as I start a new year. But maybe it’ll help you too.
Fair warning, this one starts out low but ends high.
Remember when Jesus asked the paralyzed man if he wanted to be made well? And remember how the man tried to give excuses for why he couldn’t be healed? Then Jesus said, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” (See John 5:1-14.)
You’ve prayed for help. And Jesus has shown up. He is your help. He’s listened to you list all your sins and inadequacies. Now He’s gently saying, “Yes, but I’ve paid for all of that. It’s gone. Now, come on — let’s keep going.”
You keep trying to make sure you can follow the path ahead perfectly. Spoiler alert: You can’t. Jesus can. Jesus will. He will help you when you mess up.
Jesus is on your side. He’s not a sadistic professor administering pass/fail pop quizzes. He’s your loving Creator, chiseling away at your rough spots until you look like Him. That’s a guarantee for those who’ve put their trust in Him (Romans 8:29). He’s not finished with you yet!
Here are a few other things I’ve been learning lately:
● God loves to bless the barren (Isaiah 54:1), the hungry (Luke 1:53), and the weak (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I’ve just got to admit my weakness instead of trying to “do all the things” in my own strength.
● NO WEAPON formed against me will prosper. Isaiah wrote this truth for the exiled tribe of Judah (Isaiah 54:17), but it applies to believers in Christ as well, because ultimately, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). God wins in the end!
● That accusing tongue of the devil that rises against me in judgment at every opportunity? God will condemn him (Isaiah 54:17 again), and there is no condemnation for me (Romans 8:1). The devil can’t accuse me and win, because it is God — the Creator and ruler of the universe — who has justified me through His Son (Romans 8:33)!
● Since God is for me, nothing and nobody can stop me from following Him (Romans 8:31). I’ve just got to be willing. I might have to cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” But that’s not a problem, because that prayer works! (See Mark 9:24-27.)
By God’s grace I will move forward in victory this year, and I pray you will too — not in a victory of our own perfection, but victory in Christ that empowers us to keep pursuing Him imperfectly.
We have a hope that will not make us ashamed (Romans 5:5). In other words, we don’t just “hope” God wins in the end, as if that were uncertain. We know He will (Revelation 20:9). That’s the definition of biblical hope, and it’s something we all desperately need to cling to.
That’s why I’m so happy our cover story is about the Hope Science Institute, a new nonprofit aimed at creating lasting change in Mississippi through the science of hope (page 16). Ain’t it funny how God is in everything, science included? Dawn Beam and Dwight Owens are just two folks involved in this effort, and their hope stories reminded me of the power of the God we serve.
You’ll also find hope as you read about God’s power in:
● An unexpected pregnancy in — Feature
● A mom’s “unanswered” prayers — Modern Motherhood
● A woman’s mental health — This Is My Story
● Mississippi Coats 4 Kidz — Community Outreach
● Seminary campuses at Mississippi prisons — Lagniappe
Hope is all over MCL this month. I “hope” these stories encourage you. But I know God loves you, is for you, and isn’t done with you. Now let’s start walking!