How are we almost through January already? Weren’t we just celebrating Christmas and ringing in 2018? We’ve had some ups and downs in this first month of the new year, but in this moment, I’m choosing to hold tightly to the joys and blessings. Mainly, we are celebrating and praising God for meeting the financial goal of Bright Side’s Building Hope matching gift campaign. We were so moved by the generosity of so many and how God continues to provide for the ministry of the ranch.
This gift, among others, is a reflection of who God is and what His character is like; yet, it’s so easy to begin to focus on the gifts rather than the Giver. I find myself easily recounting and retelling of all that God has done for me and all that He has provided instead of simply sharing about and enjoying God for who He is. I didn’t even realize that I was taking how God is showing me who He is through those gifts and making it all about me by focusing on those blessings rather than the Source.
So, in 2018, my one word focus is CENTERED. I need to be centered on my Lord and not just all I have and can receive from Him. My source of strength and my identity needs to be found in Him and not what I can accomplish on my own. Being centered in Jesus reminds me to praise the Giver and not just rejoice in the gifts.
Remember how I briefly mentioned we’ve also had some challenges this month? To just name a couple, I’ve had the flu and a sinus infection, we’ve at one point had both cars out of commission, and some things just haven’t gone as expected. It’s so easy to slip into a state of stress and worry when circumstances in life don’t go the way we’ve planned or even when I get my own self into a situation that’s less than ideal. We can be weighed down those feelings of helplessness, and, as for me, I’ll try to start to take control or deal with it all on my own. But, I just make more of a mess of things when I do that. So, that’s where being centered comes in again. When my heart is centered on Jesus, I know that He can give me strength and peace to face the twists and turns in life. I know that He doesn’t leave me to deal with all of it on my own and that I can depend on Him to see me through to the other side.
It’s interesting that in the midst of all this the kids recently picked out the story of Job to read in our Action Bible one night. They had never fully heard it or read it before and were curious about it. So, we read the story together. Leyton and Brynley couldn’t believe all that Job went through - how he was first surrounded by blessings and gifts and large numbers of stuff and people in his life, only to have that all taken away. Yet, even without all the gifts and stuff he once had in his life, Job still praises the Lord. He says in Job 13:14, “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him.” It was a great opportunity to talk as a family that Jesus deserves our praise, not because of what He has given us but because of who He is.
The start of 2018 has brought joys and trials, and in either or both, we will be centered on Jesus and praise His name.