Still settling back into life at home, while remembering my recent journey. I came away from the road with a long list of topics to write about. You will see evidence of these reflections in my upcoming messages. Today’s topic touched my heart amid the fields of Montana and I hope it touches your heart wherever you are today.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – NIV
The journey down US 2 in northern Montana is long and straight, the road edging close to the Canadian border. The roadway is bordered with fields of hay, corn and soybeans stretching as far as the eye can see. An occasional farmhouse or barn pops into view, but mostly the scenery is just crops awaiting harvest. There are hundreds of miles between any kind of settlement, and even then the communities are more villages rather than towns. It is a lonesome, yet amazingly beautiful landscape.
As we rolled along that straight and empty highway, a rare hilltop came into view. Surprisingly, the crest of the hill was encircled in trees, conspicuous since trees are rare in these wide open spaces. Coming closer, I spied a picturesque stone church nestled amongst the circle of trees. Perched upon that unusual rise, the church seemed to beckon to passersby, inviting them to draw near and come in.
Leaning forward in my seat, I readied myself to catch a glimpse of the front entrance, envisioning well aged hand planed doors and leaded windows. As our truck rolled past the hilltop, my heart sank in disappointment.
The church doors were boarded up and the windows covered with plywood. The picturesque little church once built with such forethought and care had been abandoned.
My heart ached with sadness. What had happened to that little church? What circumstances had led to its abandonment? Had its congregation dwindled as its members aged? Had economic circumstances drawn the younger generations out of the nearby fields into faraway cities? Had its members become frustrated or discouraged, subsequently turning away from the faith of their fathers?
Abandoned is such a lonesome word. It implies that something precious was lost, left behind, forsaken. Abandonment invokes thoughts of discouragement, loss and fear. To abandon is to give up.
I wonder why that little church was abandoned. What made those people give up on their faith?
When life throws adversity and affliction in our direction, it is so hard to stay the course. Our troubled minds and weary bodies are overwhelmed. The way forward is obscured by a fog of confusion and it is so easy to just give up and give in to despair. We turn away. We lose heart. We abandon our faith.
In this trouble-laden life, we often find ourselves hard pressed on every side. The sea of problems around us leaves us perplexed, uncertain of how to go on.
It is true that life is hard, but it is equally true that we are not alone in our battles. God remains by our side. No evil can crush us, no enemy can destroy us as long as we do not abandon the faith. We must not lose heart. The Lord knows the plans He has for us. His plans are for good and not for evil, to give you and I a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
May we keep the door open for Him. May we remove the wood from our windows, throw open the sash and let the wind of His love flow into our hearts. Let us keep our faith alive and rest in the assurance of His Power, His Presence and His Protection. For no matter what hardships lie ahead, we can be assured that our most Merciful Father will never abandon us.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1 – NIV
O Good, Good Father, You are always with us. Your Love surrounds us. Your Grace precedes us. Your Hand protects us. No matter what difficulties life hurls our way, You will not abandon us. It is we who give in to disappointment and despair. It is we who so easily turn away. Help us, Lord, to keep the faith even when it’s hard, even when we are worn out and weary. Help us fix our eyes on Your Son, Jesus, resting in the Truth that You will work all things together for our ultimate good.