Next to knowing Jesus, one of the greatest factors impacting my life has been my grandchildren. The evening before Christmas our ten year old grandson Isaiah was unexpectedly swept into eternity.
Isaiah was ten. He was very bright and very active and very loving. He lived close by
and was a special joy to us and to many others.
Despite his short life, he will be remembered for his big heart and the sensitivity he had for other people. The principal of his public school summed it up by saying that when he was having a bad day, out of the 1000 kids in his school, he consciously would look for Isaiah because he knew Isaiah would brighten his day. One of his former teachers observed that Isaiah was "a spiritual boy" because of the way he always seemed to pull the good out of others.
Isaiah was always reaching out to help others. Isaiah had a gift and he was a gift.
Isaiah's life illustrates what for me has been a shift over the years of what makes for what we typically regard as being a "spiritual giant."
His loss clearly punctuates the seriousness of the times. We've never had any illusions about the spiritual realities tied to the calling we're walking out. Yet, as good stewards, we keep our hands to the plow and dig in more now than ever before.
As I've sought the Lord during our grieving, I've been drawn to the end of Hebrews 11 and the beginning of chapter 12. It points to those, who having stood in faith, did not receive what they had expected, at least not in their earthly lives.
The reason that this passage gives is tied to something better the Lord had in mind, for us and for them, simultaneously noting that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
The truth that this passage points to is deep. It pushes us beyond the ordinary grasp of the natural mind. Yet it points to the fact that His ways are higher than our ways. It unveils a role and a connection that we share beyond the realm of time -- that impacts eternity.
This passage then admonishes us: since our role in this eternal drama has drawn such a great cloud of witnesses, to lay aside every encumbrance and entanglement, and to run with endurance the race that is set before us. Jesus set the example with the price He paid on the cross. With our eyes on Him and the example He paid, we are not to grow weary, to stumble or lose heart.
In the last 18 years we have lost two of our children and now two of our grandchildren. In each category, one was an adult and one a child. While we know that Isaiah is walking the streets of gold, the abruptness of his departure has been a challenge. It is his gain and our loss, so we are reaching hard for the Lord and the recovery that only time allows.
Life is filled with good and bad. As pointed to in the biblical story of Job, when evil overwhelms, there is a simplicity in the response: to reach even harder in knowing the Lord. The Psalmist (Ps 86:11) summed it up: "Unite my heart to fear Your Name."
Spiritually, there is a turning underway. Despite the evil all around, there is an incredible anticipation of what is to be expected from the hand of the Lord. We will be returning to Vietnam in late January as we expand the efforts with our friends in Vietnam, who have become like family to us.
I pray that this next year will be a good year for you. I pray for you as I pray for myself and my bride and for each member of my family impacted by Isaiah's departure, that the Lord would help us each to have an undivided heart, as the Psalmist describes, so that we can truly know Him as we walk out this pathway of life in these challenging days.
Thank you for your part with your prayers and your investments in our role in equipping and mobilizing the least of these our brethren. It all relates to that "something better" described in Hebrews that the Lord has in mind. It's making a difference for them, for us, and for eternity.
May the Lord grant you fresh vision and prosper you in each of your own initiatives. May His richest blessings and shalom be multiplied upon you.