“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ “ (Jeremiah 29:11–13 NIV).
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into
this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:1–5 NIV).
When we step forward into new beginnings and yield to his will, on some level God is calling us to leave the comfort of the familiar. A spiritual adventure may contain few plateaus, leading us instead on rigorous treks filled with highs and lows or the heart-sinking dip of waiting for the rope to catch. But it’s a call to step out, to leave behind earthly contentment for true fulfillment and a solidarity with God that only comes from the shaking and removng of what can be shaken.
God loves us too much to let us settle for normal. He rescued us from the domain of darkness not just to give us life but abundant life! What makes the abundant life Jesus offers great is that it is nothing like the “good life” the world offers. It is more fulfilling than anything in this world. It may be long and hard, but at least we can rest assured he has given us everything we need to make the journey.
Following Jesus may mean laying aside our obsession with productivity, efficiency, and timeliness. As we wind our way through each detour and trial, the lessons learned may be more valuable to God’s heart than the outcome ever was. God knows what’s at stake, how
the struggle can make our character more like Christ’s.
God sometimes allows his children to walk a hard road because it is the only way to become what God created us to become. Difficult experiences can lead to perseverence—suffering is essential in this process. This endurance builds our character. And the product of suffering, perseverance, and building character is hope. Hope is what keeps us going in the dark. It’s believing that God is working in the unseen and it all begins with a willingness to endure suffering (see Romans 5:1–5).
In the kingdom of God, nothing is wasted, including difficulties and trials. In the hardest of trials and loneliest of seasons, the Trinity is working in us and for us. We are never alone. We may feel like we are tumbling with nothing to grab on to, but we are always tethered to a great and mighty God! Through Christ, our place in God’s family is sealed forever.
As we abide in Jesus, we can embrace a new vision of life and exchange a normal life for a tremendous life. We are called to view ourselves as no longer our own. Because we belong
to God we are more than what we are by our own efforts. We are treasured children of God, free and empowered to serve him! We now represent our Lord. We are free to replace our old, fleshly desires with new desires that align with God’s heart.
Just as receiving new vision dramatically changes the way we see ourselves, it also reshapes the way we view and interact with others. It allows us to look at people as made in the image of God—the way God sees them. Because of this, we can put others first. We can show them how God sees them. However we are living out this new life, we are ambassadors for Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to the world. This was God’s plan from the beginning.
What trial are you facing right now? How does this trial impact how you value yourself and your life?
How does a relationship with Jesus as your Savior and Lord give you a greater vision for your life?
How does a new vision of your life because of Christ change the way you see yourself? How does it change the way you see others?
Identify the times and places where you recognized God shaping you into the person you are today. Write a description or draw a picture of how God sees you. Pray asking God what steps
he wants you to take as you represent him in the world. Listen to Laura Story’s songs “Grace” and “Extraordinary” (available on YouTube).
Mighty God, I praise you that you make all things beautiful, even my broken life. Thank you that you are always with me and that you call me your treasured child. Lord, give me eyes
to see myself, by circumstances, and the people I meet with your eyes. May I see every moment as an opportunity to grow closer to you, to be more like Christ, and to represent you to the world. Thank you that you give me the strength to persevere and that I can have hope because you are able and faithful to use me for your purposes. Amen.