Author: Beth
•Thursday, January 05, 2012
{author's note: This was an update that I sent to some folks who are geographically far away from me. Thought a few of you blog readers might enjoy a "more personal" kind of update, since I usually only do these once a year. Also, you may have noticed posts popping up and others merging...that's just all part of this end-of-year/new year cleanup! Hopefully this blog will become a little more lively now!}

Coming to the end of an old year is like dusting off an old atlas and tracing the map of where you’ve been to where you are. The land that my feet stood upon a year ago is far away. My mind makes mental trails through the cobwebs of memories, the pages of journals that have tucked away the weeks and months, looking for that compass that has directed my footsteps right up to the threshold of 2012.
If I had to choose just one word picture to describe the last 365 days, it would be that of a ship traveling “under sealed orders.”

In a sermon delivered in 1933, Chaplain Peter Marshall explained his connotation to the phrase:
“I saw a gray destroyer slipping hurriedly from port in response to urgent orders.  I watched the crew hurrying their preparations for sailing, watched them cast off the mooring hawsers. Saw the sleek ship get underway, as she rose to meet the lazy ground swell of a summer evening, with her Morse lamp winking on the control bridge aft . . . watched her until she was lost in the mists of the North Sea.
She was a mystery vessel. She had sailed “under sealed orders.”
Not even her officers knew her destination or the point of rendezvous.

So, in like manner, all the pioneers of faith have gone out – and all the explorers . . . Abraham, of old. Columbus. The Cabots. Magellan. Balboa. John Smith. Peary. MacMillan. Scott. Lindbergh. Byrd. They all went out in faith, not knowing what lay ahead.
Sometimes this going out in obedience to God’s command is more dramatic than at other times, sometimes more spectacular, sometimes more brave,
But always a venture into the unknown.”
                                                                        [A Man Called Peter; biography of Peter Marshall]

 Always a venture into the unknown.

Although my life is a far cry from daring exploits or pioneering adventures, I can still taste a bit of the salty spray of faith that comes up from the waves of a ship being directed by God on this journey. In many ways, this year has been a year of journeying - bridging the vast expanse between where I left and wherever the destination will be. 

The Lord has been building upon a foundation that He laid years ago by allowing me to continue in many various ministries around home this year. I have enjoyed work in the Second RP office and seeing God add to the church there through new leadership and strengthened relationships within the body of Christ. I have also continued assisting Dr. Blackwood (senior pastor) weekly in various ways as he cared for his wife until the Lord took her home in November. God also provided several part-time jobs throughout the year, including a regular childcare job (for 3 siblings under age 5) which filled up much of my summer and fall with rainy day stories, trips to the park, crayons, tricycles, and little kiddo hugs.

Growing friendships have also been a significant part of this year. I am so grateful that the Lord has surrounded me closely with mentors who speak truth into my life, family that help me to grow more like Christ, close friends that continually encourage and point me to Jesus, and others that I can share what God has done. Through things such as the luncheon ministry to senior citizens at church, participation in Bible studies with college students (in the spring) and adults (in the fall), regular girls’ meetings and outings, and community events and conferences, I have learned more of my Father’s friendship and love with His people through the display of it in people all around me. Oh, and since we’re talking about “growing” friendships – I have to mention the most important one that I’ve  witnessed this year: the relationship of my older brother Greg and Laura Platt who are getting  married in March, 2012. YES!  {After 24 years, I’m finally getting a sister! Just a leeetle excited here, folks.}
My family - Christmas 2011

As God continues to shape and develop a particular vision for this stage of my life, He has also allowed me to learn lots of new things this year. Courses in biblical counseling (in the spring) and missions (in the fall) helped to further explore areas of interest and gave me a greater heart for what He is doing in the lives of people both near and far. Further development in methods of communication (such as web design, photography, and writing) gives me excitement as I see God using them to proclaim His name throughout the world.  Where will He use a pair of willing hands? For now, it’s doing the “next thing” in front of me as He keeps refining, stretching, and growing.

This year has also been one of increasing in the knowledge and love of my Lord. It has been a rough one in many respects, but I have seen glimmers of hope through suffering as God continues to show me more of His grace and intense love. 

Whether it be building, growing, learning, developing, or increasing, I have seen God moving this vessel through charted waters.  Where are all these things leading? Well, that is still “under wraps” of Providence. The beauty of “sealed orders” is that I can’t strain through the mist to try to see my destination. I can’t focus on the tiny strip of land in the distance as being the goal. Rather, my eyes have nowhere else to look except to the loving face of my Lord… seeking and seeing Him in that unknown.

As 2011 draws to a close, I can only look back with praise on my lips for my Savior Jesus Christ, who has once again shown Himself to be faithful and true, and worthy of my wholehearted trust. 

“Then said the other,
Do you see yonder shining Light?
He said, I think I do.
Then, said the Evangelist,
Keep that Light in your eye…”
-Pilgrims’ Progress

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