The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from 1 Sam. 17-24; 1 Chron. 6-8; Ps. 9, 11, 17, 31, 34, 35, 54 and 57-59; and Matt. 2-8.
1 Chron. 7:20-22 tells us a little about the ups and downs of life. “The descendants of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered, Tahath, Eleadah, Tahath, Zabad, Shuthelah, Ezer, and Elead. These two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath. Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him” (NLT).
Life is messy.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Life Pacific College (LPC) with my daughter, Addie, for their fall preview day. As I sat in the chapel during the opening service and observed hundreds of students worshiping in full abandon, I couldn’t help but reminisce. I found myself propelled 22 years back in time, when I stood in that same chapel worshiping alongside my friends and future husband, full of dreams of what life would look like in the years to come, awash in the beautiful naivety of youth.
I could never have imagined at that time the heights of joy and victory that we would experience, nor the depths of pain and distress that would intercept our lives. In the last 20-plus years, my life has been a tapestry of laughter and tears, hope and despair, peace and turmoil. As I lay in a dorm-room bed that night after my chapel visit, reflecting on the hopefulness of youth, I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God through every step, and misstep, of my life. A parade of faces marched through my mind, individuals whom God provided to serve as tangible examples of His comfort, peace, joy and grace:
- Doug, who always seems to call right when I’m “on the edge”
- Sharon, who makes me laugh and reminds me to lighten up
- Liz, whose relentless declaration to me is, “You are so loved”
- Angie, whose friendship has taught me to trust again
- Kymra, who just sat and held my hand
- Dan, who extended grace beyond measure
- Chelsea, whose discernment snaps me back into focus
- Colleen, who has taught me what it means to be brave
- Mark, whose example taught me what it means to be a servant-leader
- Betsey, whose belief in me has exceeded my own on countless occasions
I have been exceedingly blessed with an amazingly supportive and beautiful family. There is a traditional Jewish Seder song titled “Dayenu,” which translates “it would have been enough.” When I look at the Christian legacy left by my grandparents, the unconditional love of my parents, the tender love and commitment of my husband and the beautiful promise of hope in my children’s eyes, I declare, “Dayenu! Lord, it would have been enough!” Then I watch the parade of other faces that God has placed in my life as my extended family, as the expression of His unending love, and I am brought to tears.
Ephraim’s family “came to comfort him”—that’s such a simple statement with such powerful implications. God has strategically placed each of us in relationships where we can serve as His tangible presence to those around us. You may never know what impact a simple gesture extended in love can mean to those around you.
As I reflect back on the faces of the students who flooded the LPC campus back in October, I am once again filled with hope. I am certain each of them will experience pain and loss in the years to come. However, I am just as confident that God will both provide for them and use them in a parade of faces extending His comfort, peace, joy and grace.
By: Traci Espeseth, district administrator of the Heartland District
Download the yearlong reading plan (PDF, 80 KB), or sign up for the full, online version of the Life Journal. To purchase a Life Journal for your own use, or to place a bulk order for church-wide use, visit FoursquareJournal.com. Learn more about Foursquare’s 2013 Life Journal project.