“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19, ESV).
I always get reflective at this time of year, looking back at the past 12 months and looking forward to the next 12. I saw the verse above in a friend’s Facebook feed last week, and it got me thinking: What has happened this year? What will happen next year?
Earlier in 2019, I spoke in a church that was celebrating the payoff of its mortgage. Several years earlier, I had met with that church as it struggled with pastoral transition, declining attendance, and decreased giving. Some thought that the church might have to close if things didn’t change. But the people prayed, sought God’s face, and asked for counsel from others. Fortunately, things did change, and today they are a debt-free church that has additional funds available to invest in ministry!
Just this week, I talked to a church that is trying to figure out how to build “phase two” on their campus. Just like the first phase, there are lots of moving parts, everything doesn’t readily “line up,” and the path ahead is not clear. But the people of the church are blessed in having seen and experienced God’s provision in the first phase—and that gives them hope that God will provide in phase two as well.
I also talked to a church late last year that thought they needed to buy property for a new campus. But after prayer and thought and counsel from others, they decided to lease and renovate a retail space instead. It was not the result they initially wanted or anticipated, but they are now convinced that this is God’s direction for them in the coming years for that part of their ministry.
In the verse above, Isaiah was reminding his exiled people that their original exodus from Egypt did not exhaust God’s power, but it provided a pattern of exodus-like deliverances. Where there was no clear path forward, God would create one. Where there was no apparent relief or refreshment, God would provide it.
In Romans 8, Paul echoes a similar theme of God’s love and promise to provide. Simply put, God wants us as His people to trust, rest, and ultimately praise Him for His care for us.
That’s what I’m thinking about these days. Whether in my work here at CIF, in my own local church, or in any number of places in my personal life, what circumstances am I facing? Where do I think God wants me to go? And where there isn’t a clear path forward—or relief from challenging circumstances—am I listening to God’s call to trust, rest, and praise him?
So … for 2020, I’m asking God for perspective to see Him clearly and for faith to trust, whether I can see the path ahead or not. How about you?
And as always, let us know if we can help your church or ministry in phase one or phase two, or whatever phase you find yourself in.