I spoke to a very good friend of mine yesterday and we spoke of the past year, everything that had taken place and how the Lord has brought us through them all. She made a statement that has hit me this morning, and I wanted to share it with you all, as we close this year out and begin another one. She said she had been thinking of “what could have been and what should have been.”
In the Old Testament as we read through it, we see the people of God building altars. Genesis 8:20 is the first mention of one being built. “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord.” I have many altars in my life, and each year I am reminded of them. You see, these altars were a place where they thanked God for His fulfilled promises; they built them as a place of worship along their journey, or to remember something that the Lord had just done for them. We too have those altars in our lives.
I am going to encourage you all today to look back over the past year, go be with your Lord God and ask Him where your altars are. What could have been, Lord? What have you brought me through this past year Lord? Look back over the year, and I think you will be filled with a sense of gratitude, a heart of praise and no matter how bleak this year has been for you- you will see the hand of God the Father with you the whole way.
There are altars set up in praise of what the Lord did in the heart of my daughter this year. There is another altar of sorrow and pain for my son. There is an altar set up for faith when I quit my full time job. There are big altars and there are small altars. What could have been? The Lord knows. There are places in my walk this past year where I see I have fallen and stumbled. But I also see the hand of my God picking me up.
Genesis 35:3 says, “Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone." I have one of those altars too. There is an altar built where I called out to the Lord in my distress and He heard me, and He answered me.
Exodus 17:15, “And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner;” This is for when I realized how selfish and sinful I was becoming and how far away from Him I had become. This was when the Lord said to Brett and I, “Hit the reset button on your lives, and come, follow me.”
Acts 17:23, "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:” This is for the altar that God built in my heart this past year, the desire and passion for others to know and to see the Love of Jesus Christ, and to fulfill the Great Commission- “to go and preach the gospel to all mankind.”
There are countless other times in my walk where the Lord spoke to me, or showed me something, or taught me something about my life in Him, and some are still settling in. But one thing I want us all to remember as we go through what is left of this year- He was with us every step of the way. Not once did He leave your side, not once did He not hear your cries. He may not have answered the way you thought He should. But some of the most wonderful prayers are the unanswered ones! Had I not gone through everything I did this past year, I know without a doubt I would not be where I am at today. I would not be serving in the most precious and wonderful ministry I am. I would not be sitting here in front of this computer sharing with you about our Mighty God. I would not be ministering to my family, I would not be the woman of God that I am had I not gone through this year.
One last altar that I have, and there is still a fire burning on top of it, as a memorial, as a daily reminder to me. It is “Then you will know that I am the Lord.” That is the one altar of my life that I never want to stop burning. I want to go through storms, trials, troubles. I understand now why James wrote, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3) I can say for the first time that going through trials is joyful, because that is how I come to know the Lord! Through the experiences of this past year I have gotten to know my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my God in a more intimate and exciting way. Had it not been for the trials and the testing, I would not be where I am today, and neither would you.
May I encourage all of you to take a time of reflection to see the Lord in your life, where you were, where He was, and then let us build one last altar, an altar of praise, gratitude, blessings and glory to the One True Love of our lives, Jesus Christ. And may that flame burn bright and ignite a passion in us that carries us into the coming year, (Lord willing).
Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
Amen and Amen to the Glory of God our Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord.