This is the text of a message I gave for New Years last night…Thanks to Jonathan Pearson and John Acuff for ideas that made me think and got it started!
I heard the story of a couple who adopted a young girl from South Africa who was born HIV positive. Typically, if there is going to be an adoption of this type, it happens when the child is still a baby. But this little girl had been passed over and spent the first 5 years of her life waiting to be adopted.
A year after the adoption, the father said something interesting about the little girl. He said “We kept hoping that she would be disobedient and break the rules.”
It seems like a strange thing for any father to hope for, but the father who adopted the orphan had a reason.
“When we first adopted her, she tried her hardest to be perfect. This little six year old girl was terrified that if she broke the rules she would be kicked out of our family and sent back to the orphanage. For her, breaking the rules would be a sign that she was comfortable and was no longer living in fear.”
Take a moment and think back on your year.
- When you rang in 2010, did you imagine the successes that you would have?
- Did you imagine the joy and happiness that you discovered?
- Did you see the heartaches and pains that were headed your way?
- Did you fail at anything this year?
- What regrets do you have?
- Did you think you would be the person you are right now?
- Which of those successes, failures, joys, heartaches and regrets would you wish you had not gone through?
Yes, you got that right. I lumped them all together. You would not be the same without the happiness and the sadness, the success and the failure that comes into your life. Each are used by God to shape who you are.
I liked this morning’s Nancy comic, but not sure I agree with all of it.
It is sometimes the pain and challenges that make us who we are, and lead to that better place. Definitely needs to be a lot less focus on the selfishness that we allow to take over.
Yet those regrets…the roads not taken…the choices made that were easy instead of hard…the fear of failure…the fear of loss…the fear of rejection…
Why do we fear? Why do we lack trust? Why do we not believe?
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
We are adopted – chosen – we have the promises of God, yet we forget them. We fear that God will reject us, leave us on the shelf, send us back – just like the little girl. So we don’t try.
That adoption does not mean a life of ease – we know Paul’s struggles. Yet God used them. God’s power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that God blesses us with – in ways that are not measurable.
So as we start this new year – what are you going to do that you are scared to do?
- Do you want to write a book?
- Do you want to conquer the self-confidence problem?
- Do you want adopt a child?
- Do you want to make a move at work?
- Do you want to lead a small group?
- Do you want to step out in faith and go on a short-term missions trip?
- Do you want to get more involved in a ministry locally, or start one that God has put on your heart?
Think beyond the usual lose weight and generic enjoy life type goals. Be specific. Listen to the big goal God is laying on your heart.
Let’s look at and take God at His Word
in Isaiah 43:16-19
16Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Put the regrets behind you…
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
Step up! Step out! Trust the only one who can save us!
Take my life and let it be yours – forever!
And I leave you with Jonathan Pearson’s words again:
New Year. New Opportunities. What will you do?