January 2018 Newsletter
Trusting God During Transitions
God is funny, isn’t he? It seems as though following Him is a constant test of adaptability. A good friend of mine sent me a reminder recently,
“Remember the forgotten proverb: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”
In my life that seems to prove true time and time again.
Anytime you move flexibility seems to be the hottest commodity you can find. From practical questions such as, “Where are the kids going to go to school?” and, “Where are the closest grocery stores?” to much more personal questions that resonate with our desire to belong, like, “Who will welcome us as friends in to their home?” and, “Will we find family here?” significant moves seem to feature constant upheaval.
Before Erin and I left the west coast, we spent some time with some dear friends who we had become very close with. Watching Savannah say goodbye to her friend, and then saying goodbye ourselves was an incredibly difficult moment. But it was also a moment that served to prove to me the depth of relationships our family has, and that gives me hope. We have incredible friends on the west coast, and we are beginning to forge friendships here on the east coast.
But no one ever claimed that following God was going to be easy.
Rob Mazza, a dear friend, once chided, “We give people years to discover the type of house they would like to buy, but expect them to make a decision to follow the God of the universe and upend their life in the blink of an eye.” Following God is a process and will often leave you discombobulated and stumbling. But in the midst of the stumbling you discover something incredible, strength of faith deepens.
Whenever you trust, the potential for trust to increase is present. When I see the faithfulness of another, it teaches me that they are faithful and I can continue to trust them, and in fact entrust them with more of who I am. Jesus said it simply, “Those who are faithful in the little will be faithful in much more.” As my trust and confidence in God increases by daily following and submitting to him, my vision for what he is going to accomplish increases. I can dream to the proportion of my faith. The greater my trust and confidence, the greater my vision.
Perhaps this is why Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, David, Esther, Deborah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul, Mary, Peter, and many other figures in the Bible and in Christian history spent time in the crucible of faith formation.
I recently spoke at Summerside Community Church (linked below) about identity and belonging. God is not so much interesting in you submitting to his will, as he is in you becoming who you are created to become. It is day-by-day that you are transformed into the image he always intended for you. You are the composite of all the minute decisions you make, and those will dictate the larger decisions you will make. As you are formed in his image by the daily decisions you make to act as he would act, you are called to greater and greater displays of his Spirit in you. And sometimes those things will send you to the places you least expected.
Gearing up for 2018
We will be launching a number of new training initiatives, both locally, and internationally. I should have information regarding what those will look like more specifically in the coming months. One goal is to have a series of high quality videos on the desert fathers and mothers, to help us understand what it takes to be truly spiritual. If you would like to support Erin, my family, and I as we launch out into what God has called us to, you may do so by following the link at the end of this letter. Financial gifts are not currently tax-deductible, but they are appreciated.
What follows are some thoughts from Psalm 51. I have been stuck on this Psalm for a while now.
“Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.” Psalms 51:8
David says that God has broken his bones, not that his bone have become broken. When we reach this state of brokenness we come to grips with the reality that we can no longer generate our own joy and gladness. I can only find life in God, I am totally insufficient in my self. This reminds me of a statement from the Art of Hearing God, “God will break us, in order to remake us.”
When God has broken my bones, I come to the realization that I cannot even walk on my own anymore. My trust must be in the one who will carry me. David may as well be saying, “O God, I cannot even move forward without your enabling grace.” Brokenness is one of the deepest signs of genuine spirituality. The realization that we do not have everything together, or that we cannot re-combobulate our life comes at a high cost, our pride and self-opinion. But absent that realization I continually attempt to trust myself in the process.
The simple truth is I am fallible and God is not. The deeper my realization of this truth the greater my trust in his sufficiency. I must truly be emptied of all that would exalt itself against the knowledge of God. Any roadblock I experience is designed to bring to death what would hinder his heart in my heart.
Consider this contemplative prayer of Ephraim the Syrian (5th century desert father), spend some time on each refrain, it will do your soul good.
"Hearken unto my unworthiness, O Lord, because Thy goodness is great and inexpressible, and grant me a pure and true repentance, for that which I have is a sham, since at one o’clock I repent and at two o’clock I anger Thee.
“Make firm my heart in the fear of Thee, 0 good Lord, and establish my feet upon the rock of sincere repentance. May Thy goodness, 0 Lord, overcome the evil that is in me, and may the light of Thy Grace overcome the darkness that prevails within me.
“O Lord, Who didst open the eyes of the blind, open also the darkened eyes of my heart. O Thou Who by Thy word didst cleanse lepers, cleanse also the sins of my soul.
“May Thy Grace be within me, O Lord, as a fire to burn up my sins; for Thou alone art the Physician of souls, the Light that is more radiant than all other lights, the joy, the repose, the delight, the true life, and the salvation, abiding unto the ages of ages, and unto Thee belong glory, honor, and worship, now and ever, and unto the ages. Amen."
Points for prayer
Clear strategy as we move in the next phase of what God is calling us to accomplish in Canada
Peaceful transition to life on the east coast
We love and appreciate all of you deeply,
Joshua and Erin Hoffert
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