From The Pastor’s Heart

January 2013

 

Dear Friend,

Our lives are often like a road we travel. At times, the journey is easy, the path ahead is unmistakable, and everything seems to be going well for us. But if you’re like me, there are also many seasons when the route is bumpy, and your circumstances take turns that are unexpected and confusing. The way before you is not very clear. As you go, the hazards—and even the blessings—become more challenging to spot. If you are not looking in the right direction, you can get into trouble.

This is why it is so important to have someone with you at all times who knows the road you are traveling. I recall learning this in a vivid way when I graduated from seminary and was just starting as a pastor. I had only been serving at my first church, Fruitland Baptist in North Carolina, for two months. A member of the congregation took me up a wooded trail into the mountains to visit a woman who had just lost her husband and was having a difficult time.

As we were walking, everything seemed fine. But suddenly, this church member said, “Stop,” in a hushed but serious tone. I immediately heeded the warning. It took me a moment, but as I carefully followed this person’s gaze, I saw the danger. Camouflaged by its surroundings was an angry rattlesnake—coiled and ready to strike. If I had taken another step, it would have bitten me. Thankfully, my friend knew exactly what to look for and was able to prevent it.

Likewise, as we begin 2013, we need someone trustworthy to lead us on the road to life at its very best—someone who comprehends exactly what is ahead and can prepare us for both the trials and treasures along the way. But who knows the future and understands the best plan for our lives? Who is able to train us in a way that is edifying rather than discouraging and loves us enough to protect us from pitfalls, making sure we don’t miss a single blessing?

You know the answer. You realize there is no one on earth able to fulfill all these requirements, but there is One in heaven who is always calling you to place your confidence in Him. So why is it sometimes so difficult to rely on the Father for the future?

The truth is there are as many reasons for doubting God as there are people who have doubts. However, all of our fears are ultimately rooted in a faulty understanding of who God is. The most effective way to learn to trust the Lord for what’s ahead is to get to know Him today.

First, it is crucial to understand that the Father is the wisest Leader for you because He knows you and the path before you perfectly. The Creator who formed you understands you better than anyone else ever could. He is intimately aware of your strengths, weaknesses, fears, and failings, which means He comprehends the most effective way to teach you. Psalm 139:16 reports, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me.” The Lord not only knows what will happen to you this year but every year of your life. He works to free you from bondage and helps you reach your full potential.

Second, God is the most helpful Leader for you because He loves you unconditionally. You never have to wonder if the Father has your best interests at heart because He does (Jer. 29:11). You never have to fear He will abandon you because of something you’ve done wrong. He won’t (Heb. 13:5). He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3), which means you can trust He will always lead you in the best way possible. This does not suggest that you won’t have troubles or difficulties. Rather, it indicates that even when you encounter challenges, you can be sure He’s allowed them for your benefit (Rom. 8:28). You may not understand what’s happening to you, but you can continue to live in confidence and victory because of His love.

Third, the Lord is the best Leader for you because He empowers you completely. God is able to equip you perfectly to accomplish goals you never dreamed possible. Paul wrote, “I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe in him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead” (Eph. 1:18-20, TLB). Is there anything you will ever face that requires more strength than was present at the resurrection? Of course not. Yet imagine all that’s possible for you. If you commit to following God wholeheartedly in 2013, you can expect to:

  • Go where you’ve never been.
  • Do what you’ve never done.
  • Love more than you’ve ever loved.
  • Be liberated from the things you hold too tightly.
  • Trust the Lord in ways you never have before.
  • And become more than you ever thought possible.

I hope you will choose to make the Father your constant Guide on the journey ahead. If you set your soul on following Him faithfully, you can be sure that He will lead you in the most wonderful plan for your life, train you in a way that edifies your soul, protect you from pitfalls, ensure you don’t miss His blessings, and help you become all He created you to be. No doubt, my friend, that is the road to life at its very best. Be sure you don’t miss it.

 

 

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. Thank you for your faithful prayers and generous gifts. I want to assure you that In Touch Ministries will certainly continue following the Father’s path in 2013. For a review of 2012 and a preview of the year to come, please visit us at intouch.org/annualreport after January 15th. May God bless you abundantly as you seek Him daily. Have a very Happy New Year.

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