With time and space, reflection often deepens and grows. The clearer air of separation, and to some extent solitude, often produce a more robust gratitude.
As Christmas approaches, I'm reminded of the distance in both time and space traveled over the past year. And I'm growing more reflective, which is mostly good.
Preparing to preach Genesis 1 and 2 this Sunday, Lord willing, I was prompted to take a peek at Mark Dever's The Message of the Old Testament. As I leafed through its pages, flashes of memory came and went. I could remember hearing this sermon or that point. But most of all, gratitude to God for allowing me the privilege of being a part (as hearer) of so momentous a work and such a wonderful fellowship filled my heart. When I was there, these were just a collection of great Sunday morning sermons, the fare to which we were treated and spoiled each Sunday morning, whether it was Mark or Michael or a guest preacher. With time and space, I recognize in these sermons a much greater treasure for the Church and I'm thankful to God for what He has done in and with them.
Time and space and reflection have made me more appreciative of my family and friends back in the states. Separated by an ocean and a plane ride (which really aren't that great a barrier in our day), I'm reminded that seeing them isn't as easy as jumping in the car. In phone calls, where I'm asked from time to time for counsel or prayer, I'm more deeply affected with the knowledge that their well-being totally depends on God who sustains all things. There are hurts I don't see, laughter I can't share, hopes realized and dashed that escape my notice. And in it all, I'm made more grateful to God for the family and friends he's given me. Five months time and a couple thousand miles of distance have me missing these great blessings of family and friends. And, I'm thankful for them all... old and new.
This is the first moment I've had to stop and contemplate what the Lord has done in bringing the family to Grand Cayman and the FBC family. I've thought a lot, but the pace of things hasn't allowed for deeper reflection. There's reflection ahead of me, I'm sure, as we enter the week of vacation beginning Monday. But, I'm deeply grateful--deeply grateful--for the people here. Such open love and care. Several women in the congregation have absolutely adopted my family as their own, investing vast amounts of time and interest in my daughters particularly. The way people have cared for us in the birth of Titus and in a 1,000 other ways is embarrassing in its tenderness and generosity. And I'm moved to tears even now with gratefulness to God. It's an incomparable joy and privilege to labor here as their pastor and to live together with them as a brother in Christ.
My mother is here visiting with us. Kristie's mother was here a few weeks back. As with each of our children, they've come to help out with the newborn routine. I simply wouldn't know where to begin in describing my love for my mother and mother-in-law, or in describing how thankful I am for the Lord's good providence in placing me in both these families. There isn't time and space enough for me to finish reflecting on the love, grace, tenderness, compassion, wisdom, joy, patience, steadfastness, beauty, faith and courage of these women. I am grateful to God for them.
My wife is a chip off the ol' block. Tender and courageous. Patient and bold. Witty and wise. Gorgeous and gracious. Full of life and laughter and light. Her children will rise up and call her blessed. And if there is any praise in the gates for this stubborn, cantankerous ol' dog, it's in no small part because of Kristie. Gratefulness is too shallow a word to describe how I feel toward God for Kristie. Babe, I love you with an everlasting love.
Afiya, Eden, and Titus. And then there were three! These are three extraordinary children. Courteous and kind. Full of giggles; even Titus is smiling quite a bit in these last couple of days. I am thankful for the humbling the Lord produces in me through them. I am thankful for the motions of grace I see in Afiya and Eden in particular. I am thankful for their contribution to our family and am excited to see what the Lord will make them to be. I am grateful. My reflection on who they are produces a certain urgency and yearning to see them walk with the Savior. I want them to be godly, Christ-following, pure ladies... exhibiting womanly grace, modesty, knowledge of Christ, maturity, faith, hope and love. Reflection becomes dreaming... and the prayer of faith becomes so urgently necessary.
Life is good. Eternal life is best. This morning, my longing for heaven is strong. It's not always so. But right now, I want to be with my Savior, to see Him face-to-face, to know Him as I am known, to rejoice with the company of heaven at the glories of our God and King! I want all the persons I know to be there with me... but I'm ready for eternity. Christ has purchased and our omnipotent God has vouchsafed a life without end for all who repent and believe on Him, a life wihtere there is joy and pleasure forevermore, where there is no more sun or moon because God himself lights that place, where God is the Temple, where "when we shall have been there 10,000 years" we will only have just begun to sing God's praises. In the quiet of space and time... today, and I pray it would be every day all the time, I want to see my Savior.
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