I began this blog three years ago in July 2010 as a way to express my frustration in dealing with long term unemployment. I was new to blogging at the time and I was also one year and three months into being unemployed, and my frustration level had peaked as I never dreamed I’d still be unemployed by that time after losing my job in Houston in April 2009. Well, if you’ve been reading my blog posts you know that I am still unemployed four+ years later.
Those first few months of blogging were a real struggle–not so much from a writing perspective but because I had no consistent theme and the posts were “all over the place” (much like my frustration level). By the end of April 2011 (which also was the 2nd anniversary of when I lost my job in Houston), I deleted all of the posts I had written and decided to take a break. I wasn’t even sure I’d ever try blogging again; after all, what I needed was a job and a life again, and blogging just seemed to exacerbate the frustration I felt from my attempts at trying to find work after applying for close to 400 jobs at that point in time. However, three months later, in July 2011, I started it back up again and, as the saying goes (and 222 blog posts later . . .), the rest is history.
This post is about celebrating these past three years and the changes that have occurred in me since then–changes that have put Jesus Christ back in His rightful place in my life and that have opened up my life and understanding in ways I could never have imagined even three years ago. Many of my blog posts are the direct result of those changes. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We can’t know how to live this life in Jesus if we don’t spend significant time in His Word and getting to know Him through study and by praying for wisdom, insight, and understanding. Living on the fumes of a pastor’s sermon cannot and will not change a life, nor will focusing on ourselves and what we want. Getting to know the Creator on a personal level will change everything about our lives. He has a plan for each and every one of us but we have to get our plans and agendas out of the way so He can show us His. There is no other way.
As I mentioned in a post I wrote several days ago titled, “Faith That Conquers,” I’ve been planning a trip to Washington D.C. as I haven’t been there since I attended a conference there when I was a grad student at Iowa State University (1990-91). Unfortunately, a situation with my ankle has postponed it for the moment but I haven’t taken it off the back burner. And, I can’t think of a better or more inspiring place to visit to celebrate America’s greatness and everything America stands for from our past right on up through today.
There is one other place I have longed to visit, and that place is Israel. Israel and the Jewish people have a very special place in God’s heart and the Old Testament is filled with stories and prophesies regarding the creation of Israel and it’s rich history which includes folks like Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Rahab, King David, Elijah, Elisha, and all of the prophets, and many, many others, too. Israel is also known as “the apple of God’s eye” (Zechariah 2:8), and it is the birthplace of Jesus Christ and where He ministered during His time on earth until his crucifixion and resurrection. And Israel and the city of Jerusalem will play prominently in the future role God has in store for this planet of ours. Zion is another term frequently used in the Bible which “generally refers to the city of Jerusalem (and is used in conjunction with Jerusalem), and the entire Land of Israel, and . . . to the Jewish people” (quote source here). That brings me to one of my favorite passages in the Bible that is found in Isaiah 54 (NIV), and it is full of promise:
The Future Glory of Zion
“Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labor;
because more are the children
of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.
“To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
“Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with lapis lazuli.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones.
All your children will be taught by the Lord,
and great will be their peace.
In righteousness you will be established:
Tyranny will be far from you;
you will have nothing to fear.
Terror will be far removed;
it will not come near you.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing;
whoever attacks you will surrender to you.
“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.
Centuries ago, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied in Jeremiah 30:2-3 regarding the restoration of Israel after it’s destruction back then: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord.” And again Jeremiah 33:7 states, “I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before.” And after 1,878 years Israel became a nation again on May 14, 1948 (source here) and it’s economy is booming.
It is my hope that once my own “economy” is booming again (e.g., employment/income) that I can visit this great nation of Israel that God raised up centuries ago, scattered around the globe after it’s destruction, and then brought back to life again in 1948–a nation so rich in heritage for us as Christians and where Jesus Christ walked and ministered during His years on earth and gave His life so that we may live (for those who believe).
As Israel has come “full circle” after centuries of being scattered, I have great hope, too, that after some very difficult years filled with unbelievable learning experiences that I, too, will soon finally come “full circle.” And if you are currently experiencing difficult and trying times (and who isn’t?) . . .
It is my hope that you will, too . . . .
And on that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite jazz instrumentals by David Benoit on his CD titled, “Full Circle” (2006).
YouTube Video: “Beat Street” (2006) by David Benoit: