the very best place to start?

Yesterday I stumbled across an old InTouch devotional from back in 2002 on "Wisdom in Trials." 2002? Wow, really!? 

Well, this July was a sort of reordering-my-private-world kind of month, which I may or may not share all the details regarding. But I didn't have any tutoring scheduled and just got to focus on the kids and the home and a few close relationships. Halfway through, the boys went to spend a few days with Grampa and Gramma while I sorted through two closets, bonded with baby, and searched my heart. I'm happy to report that the end is in sight for the organization of "stuff." I think I'll always be sorting through "soul stuff"--an ongoing "project", for sure. "We're all in process," right!? Well, I'm thankful "He's still working on me" ... very patiently!

Anway, this 2002 InTouch devo guide on "Wisdom in Trials" by Charles Stanley. My first thought was to either throw it away or pass it on (my modus operandi when I'm cleaning out--emphasis on out!). Instead, I decided to take a look. And I'm so glad I did! 

As an author, it always intrigues me to think about a topic and think where I might start the discussion, how I might plot the thirty days or the dozen chapters if I were to take up the task. And it's so interesting to see how different approaches work so effectively at different times. 

Well, this month-long devotional was no different. Day 1 didn't start where I expected with one of your typical passages on suffering. Interestingly, instead, it started in Revelation 20. 

Sometimes I think we think the "best place to start" is "at the very beginning" thanks to a stirring Rodgers-and-Hammerstein tune performed by Julie Andrews and the captain's kids... 

Or we think we need to start in the moment and then kind of work out--backwards and forwards--after we deal with the right now. 

Granted, there's a place for each of these approaches, to be sure. 

But this time, for me, Charles Stanley nailed it: sometimes the best place to start is at the very end ... the future hope that is ours. 

Revelation can be a very challenging book for me. But today, despite initial impression from the beginning of the verse, my heart became focused and I came away with pure encouragement.

Revelation 20:4, "And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."  

As I looked at the part about those who have been beheaded/martyred ... but who will be exalted to reign with Christ, my mind was directed to the two things those saints held firmly to the very end: the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. 

Those two things are what I, too, must hold onto. 

I can let go of other things. I've been told I need to. And I really am working on that. 

But I cannot ... I must not ... let go of these: the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. 

The resurrection is coming! "It will be worth it all!!!" 

And I am so thankful for this sure and steadfast hope! 

No matter what you're facing today, I pray this will be an encouragement to you too. 

Hold fast the testimony of Jesus. 

Grip tight the Word of God. 

Never let go. No matter what.

Grace and peace multiplied,
with love, 


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