It's a brand new year, and I hope it will be filled with health and happiness for all of us!
I realize there are many things that will happen this coming year, and some of it might not be pleasant, but whatever may come, let us declare that we will obey the voice of our heavenly father and continue to dedicate our life to him.
We had a heartbreaking end to last year as just before Christmas we had to put down one of our most-beloved dogs. China was a brush-coat Shar-Pei and one of the most intelligent and loyal dogs a family could ask for. She had a protective personality and felt that it was her job to guard our property and to be constantly on the lookout for intruders. We have secure fences, but every now and then a wild animal would climb into our yard, and that was always a huge mistake on their part. China was jet-black and was difficult to see in the night as she would patrol the premises in stealth mode until we told her it was bedtime and she would proudly come in. We took her keen hearing for granted and how she would bark even when people were walking or talking across the street. China was so athletic and loved to run through the fields and investigate everything, and after 10 years we miss her terribly. I can just imagine her running in the fields and forest of an endless heaven with all the other animals who are there.
So far in this first week of the new year, things have not been much better as we are now dealing with another serious personal setback. Sometimes it seems that trouble comes in waves and that we are being attacked from every side, but these are the occasions when we must stand strong in our faith, keep our armor buckled on tight and stay focused on God's promises.
Yes, life has its share of ups and downs, but through the worries and discouragements we must remember that Christ loves us, he is aware of our circumstances and will take care of us. Even though we realize that he always has our best interest in mind, most of the time it's difficult to understand what is going on or why this is happening because we are traumatized and in shock.
Psalm 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," and this is a comforting reminder that God wants us to have confidence in where we are going and to not stumble on our way there. The world is filled with darkness, and he is offering the light of his truth so we can see and follow his path.
Another important part of this analogy is that he wants us to walk a specific path that he has arranged and not one of our own makings. His desire is for us to listen to his voice and obey him in every situation. Unfortunately, most of us decide that "if it is to be, it is up to me" and begin to trust and follow our own desires and ideas.
Sometimes this path is confusing and fearful, but the light of God's love encourages us to trust him even when it appears to be heading straight up a cliff. Even though many times it may not seem like it, he is completely aware of our circumstances and always has our best interest in mind.
We are told that faith is the evidence of things not seen, which means we must trust where he is leading us. Also, this light is not like a powerful spotlight illuminating what is up ahead. The lamp or lantern of his word is designed for us to take one step at a time and go slowly as we hold tightly to his hand.
Lastly, this path allows us to believe he is leading us into his perfect will. The reason and meaning of life is to know God and to follow him so whatever happens in our journey, let us stay as close to him as possible and live in his confidence and his peace, which passes all understanding.
"Then spake Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" John 8:12.
William F. Holland Jr. is a minister and chaplain based in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Read more at billyhollandministries.com.