Mr. Tumbles is my little hideaway cabin in the woods of Tennessee. It’s not much to look at and pretty austere on the inside. There are bunkbeds, a propane heater (nice to have), a tiny bathroom (even nicer), a kitchen area with a little gas stove, and a bookcase full of some of my favorite books. Actually the best thing in Mr. Tumbles is not in Mr. Tumbles. It’s the front porch that looks out over a little meadow and the hardwood forest that leads down to the Harpeth River.
I confess that about Thursday of every week I start thinking about a trip out to Mr. Tumbles. I don’t get to go very often but just knowing that it’s there, and a possibility, gives me a little solace in the middle of a hectic week. Cold weather or warm, there is nothing better than sitting on the front porch of Mr. Tumbles and watching absolutely nothing happen.
I went out last week for a night or two to do some writing and a little planning for the new year. It was cold, really cold. It got dark very early. And it was quiet. (Not the peaceful, get-some-rest kind of quiet but the what-was-that, did-you-hear-an-axe-murderer kind of quiet.) One thing I learned is that it is hard to write when you are shivering inside a sleeping bag with all of your clothes on and a butcher knife in your hand. Another thing I learned is that the front porch is a lot more fun on a warm summer evening than the middle of freezing winter night. I stayed one night and came home the next morning.
As I begin the new year I am thinking about timing. Not so much mine but God’s timing. I am absolutely convinced that God always has my best interest at heart. (And yours.) His promise to Jeremiah for the children of Israel is valid for us today. “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to bless you and give you hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) St. Paul’s encouragement to us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose” is as true today as it was when Paul was sitting in a prison cell. God is large and in charge and He loves us with an everlasting love.
But life is about timing. Not every horizon holds out smooth sailing. Not every morning promises clear skies. Remember Peter wrote “And AFTER YOU HAVE SUFFERED A LITTLE WHILE the God of all grace will restore you and make you strong.” (I Peter 5:10) Let me make a prediction for your 2013. There will be a lot of beautiful, sunny, summer evenings sitting on the porch watching nothing. I promise you that God has some amazing and wonderful days for you in this next year. He has promised that His goodness and mercy will follow you every single day. (Psalm 23:6) He says He will meet every single need that arises this year. (Philippians 4:19) He says if we trust Him He will direct our every path. (Proverbs 3:5-6) All of these things are true for you in 2013. I know it.
But, I am also sure there will be few cold nights when the best you can do is crawl in a sleeping bag and hold on until morning. You will be disappointed this year. There will be some heartbreak in 2013. I am pretty sure you will suffer some loss and say some goodbyes. Even those things God promises to use to make you better. (James 1:24) The key is to remember God’s timing. Morning always follows midnight. Spring always comes after winter. There is always a front porch waiting after you’ve gone through some dark, lonely nights. God’s timing is always right. So this year look for His blessings. Don’t get stuck in the trials. And while you are planning, plan a few evenings out on the front porch watching nothing. It will do you good. Mike
(I’ve attached a sheet from my friend Joan Collier that prompted these thoughts. Print it out and keep it in your Bible this year)
What can you expect God to do in your life in 2013? Some pretty incredible things. You can expect:
• God’s mercies to follow you, and pursue you, every every minute of every hour of every day. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. ” (Psalm 23:6)
• God to meet every single true need that should arise. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
• God to lead you, counsel you, guide you, and give you wisdom. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
• God to freely forgive your sins each time you repent. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
• God to wonderfully correct and discipline you if you should stray into sin. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)
• God to continue working powerfully in you as you pursue holiness. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
• God to help you overcome patterns of sin that have plagued you for years. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. ” (Romans 6:14)
• God to use trials in your life to refine and purify your faith. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
• God to give you every good thing. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
God has promised to do all these things, and many more. His promises are sure. 2013 is bursting with blessings.