Lessons Learned This Year

I keep a journal every year and include in it things I learned from reading through the Bible. I also write down life events that made me laugh, or stop and think. I offer some of my favorites from 2017, in hopes that you might enjoy them as well.

God told the people of Israel that they were to keep his commandments in the land they were going over to possess, that they may learn to reverence the Lord, along with their children and grandchildren. I have thought for the eight years that I have been a grandpa that it is a mercy of the Lord to let us old people try again to raise children, since we make such a hash of it the first time. I love reading books to my grandkids when they come over, and talking to them about life. We were babysitting Owen and Liza one night recently. I had just read several Bible stories to them, about Sarah having Isaac, and Rebekah having Jacob and Esau when Owen, who is four, looked up at me and asked, “When are y’all going to have kids?” I panicked for a second as I thought, “Oh, no! We forgot to have kids!” After I stopped laughing, it was fun explaining to Owen that if we had not had children, his daddy wouldn’t be around to marry his mommy so that he and his brothers and sister could be born.

One day in the spring I went to meet with a former student named Leo. He wanted to give me some tea from China, the land of his birth. As I thanked him and we talked, he suddenly said, “I believe in God. I just don’t know him.” We talked about that for a while and I encouraged Leo to start reading his Bible, and that there he would find a way to know God. He said he would and then Leo said, “Would you mind giving me a hug?” I was glad to do that and then I prayed for this young man, that God would meet with him as he reads the Word, and that Leo would learn to trust the Lord. I marveled later about all of this. I had prayed on the way over to meet with Leo about whether I should bring up God or faith to him. God answered as Leo brought them up himself.

While in Moldova this summer, I was reading in 2 Kings about the man called Jehu. I love this guy and look forward to meeting him in heaven, and maybe challenging him to a chariot race. I can identify with this man; the Bible says he “drove furiously.” I also love his zeal for the Lord. He was relentless in his pursuit of God’s will, and the way he dealt with Jezebel is a picture of sin-eradication, not sin-management.

Here’s a verse to ponder, especially in light of the #MeToo avalanche this fall: “But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” The reference is to Uzziah, a king of Israel who served the nation and the Lord for 52 years. “His fame spread, for he was marvelously helped, until he was strong.” When he became great in his own eyes, however, the downward spiral began. Uzziah refused to listen to counsel. He got angry at those who tried to warn him about his sin. The Lord struck Uzziah with leprosy, and the king lived in isolation until his death.

We had the glorious privilege of being with all of our children and grandchildren at the beach for a week this summer. When our daughter and her family left to drive back to Kansas, Cindy cried and grieved over it. I wrote in my journal, “A mom just wants to be with her family. It occurs to me that God has put in all of us a longing for that time when there will be no more goodbyes.”

Amen. Until that day, may the Lord draw you and me closer to Him.