This year I have been challenged to make a few changes in my life. If last year taught me anything it taught me that life is fragile and unpredictable. I've already posted about my desire to engage much more seriously with prayer (you can read the post here). I would love in 2019 for prayer to be my steering wheel rather than my spare tyre (I have enough of those already). At the start of a New Year it is good to be honest. I waste far too much time, I lack discipline and too often don't achieve what I claim are the goals of my life: to know God, to follow Jesus Christ wherever he leads and to love the people who most people want nothing to do with. I am too often derailed by circumstances. Last year I attempted to do less, better. I'm going to continue that this year. I want to read more (possibly even finish a book), pray more, say 'no' more often, take care of myself and treasure the relationships that mean most to me. Being a good brother and son have become really important over the last year, but being a good Dad to 5 boys and a husband remain my full time job. I am resolved to 'wrestle with Romans' this year and I am really enjoying John Pipers sermon series which is majestic and deeply humbling at the same time. You can listen to it on Audible or here. I am reminded of John MacArthur's quote that 'the heart can only go as high in worship as it can go deep into theology.' I plan to dive deep this year.
One of the best books I received last year was 'New Morning Mercies' by Paul D Tripp. I got the book as a gift from Donnie G Macdonald at the end of the Skye Shinty Camp. I don't use a lot of daily devotional books but there is something different about New Morning Mercies. Almost every day there is something fresh and different and I come away with a fresh appreciation of God's grace in the gospel.
The reading for the 4th of January hit me right between the eyes. Paul Tripp very movingly talks about the day his daughter was hit by a drunk driver. She had eleven breaks in her pelvis and massive internal bleeding. When he heard the news he was 6 hours away but when he eventually walked into her hospital room he says 'its as if the whole world went dark.' I can empathise with his experience over the last 10 months. Sometimes we experience this darkness for months or even years. Quite rightly we ask 'where is God?'
Thankfully Paul Tripp's daughter has recovered. In his devotional he used these interesting words which really stuck me: 'I held on to the thought that our lives were not out of control. We were comforted again and again with the thought that when it came to Nicole's accident, God was neither surprised nor afraid. You see, there is no mystery with God. He is never caught off guard. He never wonders how he is going to deal with the unexpected thing.'
Paul Tripp then quotes the verse from Daniel 2 v 22 which I must have read on numerous occasions but this time it just hit me like a train.
20 Daniel answered and said:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
22 he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
Wow! What comfort. As we grope around in our circumstances, disappointments and tragedies, God knows exactly what is in front of us. To us it is darkness, but not to him. He sees the end from the beginning and is working all this for his glory and our good. As Paul Tripp says:
'God is with you in your moments of darkness because he will never leave you. But your darkness isn't dark to him. Your mysteries aren't mysteries to him. Your surprises don't surprise him. He understands all the things that confuse you the most. Not only are your mysteries not mysterious to him, but he is in complete charge of all that is mysterious to you and me.'
None of us know what this year will hold for us. But we can take incredible comfort by putting our trust in the one who dwells in perfect light and who know exactly what is in the darkness.