Daily Devotion - Monday, January 4, 2016

"We must not try to manipulate life; rather we must try to find out what life demands of us, and train ourselves to fulfill these demands.  It is a long and humble business."  - Phyllis Bottome, Survival

This past week my family travelled to Chicago to visit some dear friends, and to spend some time in that great city, which we called home while I was attending seminary.  Chicago holds a special place in our heart for a lot of reasons, and we had the opportunity to reflect on many of them last week during our visit. 

My middle son, Jackson, was born in Chicago and it looms large in his imagination, as not only a great city and the place of his birth, but also the place where our family truly discovered our capacity for faith and trust in God. 

He and I had the chance to talk about that faith and trust one morning when we were driving slowly through some fairly awful freezing rain and snow.  "How did we come to Chicago?" he asked me.  "I've never told you the story?" I asked in turn.  "No, I've heard bits and pieces, but not the whole thing."  

So I spent the next half hour telling my son Jackson the miraculous story of how my wife Merideth and I left our idyllic life, jobs and home of our dreams in Tallahassee, Florida to move to Chicago so I could attend seminary.  I don't have the space to tell you that story here and now, but I can tell you that it was filled with so many incredible and wonderful signs of God's leading that it still blows my mind to think about it. 

On New Year's Eve we gathered with our friends and spent some time reflecting on our year, sharing our struggles and triumphs, and then asking specifically for prayer over some of the areas of our life where we wanted to grow and change in 2016.  

During that process, I had occasion to consider the one constant in all of the ebbs and flows of my life---the one thing that remains true during all of the changes and challenges.  That one constant is and has always been the presence of God.  All I need to do is look back and I can see clearly God's presence, God's leading in my life--all along the way.  

And I can say with confidence that every single time I've felt God's presence more fully is when I've simply trusted God with my life and stepped forward fearlessly in faith.  It's not rocket science, it's not a secret formula--it's just humility.  It is, as novelist Phyllis Bottome writes, "a long and humble business." 

In James 4:10 we read this incredible exhortation, "Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up."  What an incredible vision, right?  As we begin a new year, we need this kind of vision.  So many of us feel the need to manipulate life, to do it all on our terms.  But the truly miraculous is just waiting to happen, to blow your mind, to change your life---when you let go of your need for control and practice humility.  

May you find the courage and the strength to let go and let God have the reins of your life in this new year.  May you cease your struggling to do it all on your terms, and allow the Almighty to cover you in His mercy.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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