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Archive for January 23rd, 2011

Joyful Faith: A Foggy Horizon

I love the picture at the top of this blog.  At first, I passed over it because, let’s face it, it doesn’t exactly scream “JOY!”  But the more I look at it, the more I realize that it is an accurate representation of my life right now.  (If you’re an email subscriber, you may want to click over to the web version.)

Barren or Dormant?
The trees in this picture, at first glance, appear to be barren.  It would seem to be winter, until you notice the vividly colored leaves beneath it, suggesting that this picture was actually taken in fall.  I’m reminded that, like the trees, we all go through seasons in life.  The book of Ecclesiastes talks about how there is a time for everything.  Sometimes, our lives are in a season of new beginnings, such as when a new baby is born, and we enjoy the excitement of spring.  We love the summer seasons of growth and productivity, and enjoy the harvest season as we reap the benefits of our hard work in autumn.  But then there’s winter.  The days grow darker and productivity wanes.  The storms come and rob us of our beautiful leaves, causing us to appear exposed and barren.  But what looks on the outside like a dead tree, is merely one that is dormant.  Resting.  Rooted firmly in the ground, each tree withstands the bitter cold and darkness until the new warmth and light of spring arrives – just as it always does.  Winter does not last forever.  When we stay rooted in God’s Word, we can withstand the harsh realities of life without losing hope that spring will come!

A Foggy Horizon
The background of this picture fades away into the mist.  Even though you know there’s something out there, the fog limits your view to only what is right in front of you.  Isn’t that true of life in general?  Even if you’re not facing a big fat question mark in regard to future employment, like we are currently, none of us really knows for sure what will happen beyond this moment in time.  As we move through life, some days are bright and sunny, and we may think we can see far ahead and predict what will come.  Other days are clouded by uncertainty, and yet the horizon is unchanged – it is merely our perception of it that is altered or limited.  This picture reminds me that although I can’t see what is ahead for our family, I can rest my faith in the knowledge that the God who has led us to this place, will continue to lead us through the mist to a place he has prepared for us.  And although the future is unclear, what matters is what is right in front of me – TODAY, which is full of beauty and color, if I will train my eyes to focus on it instead.

A Path to Choose
The focal point of this picture is a beautiful bridge.  The architecture would suggest that this bridge was built for beauty, as well as functionality.  There is a nice, paved path that continues on to the right.  The photographer was probably standing on this path.  I’m guessing that the bridge is likely what caught his or her eye.  I don’t know which path the photographer ultimately chose to continue on: the paved path, or across the bridge.   In life, our future is often determined by our choices (and also affected by the choices of others).  Sometimes we have to chose whether or not we will stay on a safe, well-trodden path, or cross a bridge into unfamiliar territory.  Our journey in homeschooling has taken us off the highway of mainstream education, and allowed us to explore beautiful new paths filled with opportunities for wonder and discovery.  This is one way we’ve chosen to follow God’s leading away from the familiar and into the unknown.  All of us face these kinds of choices at some point.  Do we cling to what is comfortable, or do we step out in faith? When we face a choice of which path to take, do we believe God’s Word enough to trust him to tell us which way to go?  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” For me, to “acknowledge him” means to invite God into every decision we make, and start each day by reading God’s Word.   It is during these quiet moments of listening that God whispers, “Over here is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

While the horizon remains foggy, and it seems like spring is so far away, I continue to hope that someday I will look back over the paths of my life and quote the end of my favorite Robert Frost poem, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

If you’d like to join me on my journey through the New Testament this year, you’ll find the daily reading schedule for the week of January 23-29 on the Faith tab above.  Subsequent weekly schedules will be posted each Saturday.

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