What follows is a New Year’s letter to my children. I decided to post it on my blog because I realized that the things I wanted to say to my children are really a message from the Father’s heart, things he wants everyone to hear. My prayer is that these words from my heart will be an encouragement to your faith.
To my dear children, whom I love with all my heart.
As we enter a new year, there are three simple things that I want to say to you.
The first thing I want to tell you is how much the Father loves you.
As I get older, my faith is getting simpler and simpler. I have been wrong – or at least partly wrong – about some things that I was once sure of. That’s because I was sure of far too many things. But in his mercy, God has been at work in my life, shaking everything that can be shaken, so that what cannot be shaken may remain. We can have opinions and preferences about many things, but there are only a few things that really matter. God Himself – His goodness and holiness and love and trustworthiness – is the most important foundation stone of all.
Despite my best intentions, my own capacity to show you a true father’s love has been imperfect, limited and inconsistent, but His love never fails those who trust Him. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, no matter what happens to you, to those you love, and to the world, the Father is completely trustworthy. He is consistently faithful, merciful, kind and good to those who put their hope in Him and in His Son Jesus.
Yes, the Father loves you. He made you for love, He knows your name, He knows everything about you – even the worst parts – and still He loved you enough that He gave His Son to redeem you. He loves you enough to pursue you until you have yielded fully and freely to His embrace – until you have surrendered every corner of your life to His transforming power.
The second thing I want to tell you is that in this world you will have trouble. I’m not just talking about the personal troubles of illness, grief, poverty, and other misfortunes that can afflict us. In a world that has been marred by the evil one, these things are real enough, but they will not endure forever.
No, I’m talking about something bigger. For reasons that would take too long to list here, I have come to believe that the final great crisis of history is drawing near. The age-old battle between dark and light is becoming more intense and more prominent.
I won’t get into the game of predicting details or dates, because there is nothing to be gained by speculating on things that Jesus has told us we cannot know. It only leads to fear and disillusionment. But Jesus does instruct us to pay attention to the signs of the times. All over the world the message of the Kingdom of God is spreading. At the same time, all over the world the powers of darkness are increasing their attacks on the people of the light.
In the midst of such a time, I want to plead with you not to let the Enemy lull you to sleep with apathy or false security, or blind you with despair or cynicism. Stay awake! The troubles of life – both your personal troubles, and the upheavals of a world in crisis – are not just things you have to endure helplessly. They are signposts to point you to Jesus. God is able to provide for His people no matter what is going on around you. He has given you strength to stand – and not only to stand but to triumph.
The third thing I want to tell you is that as troubles increase, so will opportunities also increase. Marion and I have been experiencing the drawing of the Holy Spirit in recent months. God has been opening doors of faith to us as we have become more watchful, more expectant and more attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit. All around us there are people who are hungry to know the living God. All around us there are opportunities to serve, to do good, to bless others, to sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God – the Kingdom that will come openly on the earth when Jesus returns.
Creation is groaning with the birth pangs of the age to come. Our final redemption is drawing near. This age is coming to an end, and the Lord is returning. The Holy Spirit is awakening the people of God, calling us to fresh faith and love, so that those who belong to Jesus will be ready for Him when He returns, as a bride who has made herself beautiful for her wedding day.
So be encouraged, be full of faith, be watchful. Don’t build your lives, your hopes, your expectations on things that will crumble. Build on the one foundation that will stand secure when everything else falls apart. He is changing everything. He is making everything new. He is shaking all things so that He may restore all things. Those who put their hope in Him, and do not waver or lose hope in the midst of the shaking, will see His glory.
That, and nothing less, is what you are called to. Marion and I are believing for every one of you to shine like the sun in the Kingdom of your Father. We love you and Jesus loves you.