What a contrast! This year the Dornan family has been blessed with a dramatic reminder of God’s love and grace as we remember and reflect on what we were all doing at this time last year. Huddled into our little apartment in Houston with all 14 of us and resting solely on faith regarding the months ahead. In so many ways it was an unexpected blessing, and as I reflect on where I am today, I am indeed grateful for the journey I have traveled. Our faith is deeper, our family is stronger, and my perspective has certainly been sharpened by the challenges, the emotions, the unknowns, and the celebrations of this year.
I have discovered books and authors previously unknown to me, and the experience and revelations have been inspiring and of great comfort. I have begun a long time goal of scripture memorization….. and surprisingly found so many of you excited to join me in this challenge (see my page Weekly Memory Verses). I so hope you are staying with it as I know it can be daunting and even discouraging….but keep going as it will pay off in so many ways. As the psalmist said:
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
And, at Christmas, we are reminded of the fact that as Christ-followers and believers, we have been offered forgiveness and eternal life…a gift…not to be earned. What a deal! So, as we grow in knowledge and faith, and we “hide his Word in our hearts” through memorization and daily reading, we gain the wisdom and power we need to live life abundantly.
I read something recently that speaks pretty profoundly about our desert experiences and although my life sometimes seems like it is a bit too “normal” these past few months, I must always keep in mind the lessons and perspective offered during the months of detour and uncertainty. Pretty amazing how God allows such times to be used for our ultimate good and His perfect will. I sure hope that each of you has also been able to learn and gain strength and perspective from our travels together and your individual stories of “desert experiences”.
Reflect with me for a moment from the thoughts of a great Christian writer FB Meyer:
“What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light” (Matt. 10:27).
Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark, that He may tell us things. Into the dark of the shadowed home, where bereavement has drawn the blinds; into the dark of the lonely, desolate life, where some infirmity closes us in from the light and stir of life; into the dark of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.
Then He tells us His secrets, great and wonderful, eternal and infinite; He causes the eye which has become dazzled by the glare of earth to behold the heavenly constellations.
But such revelations always imply a corresponding responsibility–‘that speak ye in the light–that proclaim upon the housetops.”
We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet; presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.
Were the forty days wasted that Moses spent on the Mount, or the period spent at Horeb by Elijah, or the years spent in Arabia by Paul?
There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food.
Thus alone can the sense of God’s presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, “Thou art near, 0h God.” –F. B. Meyer
“Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.”
So it was, and is, with me….. and I think each of us. God uses our shadows and our suffering to bring us to new understandings of faith, and we are then given opportunities (and obligations) to proclaim what we have seen and discovered.
I find myself here today with the keen awareness of the activities and blessings presented
in my last posting. Able to marvel at the return to “life”, the “God-workings” in my family on so many levels, and the ability to once again make “plans”, but with a new appreciation for the value of each day. Since the last writing to you we have experienced the joy of Thanksgiving here in Atlanta with family, followed by a trip to “Achievers” in Orlando. Previous to that we also hosted a group of our South African Diamonds here at our offices and home, and also last week we received a similar group from Europe…and then 20 beautiful and grateful Diamonds from Mainland China. What a week that was!! Dinners at our home, meetings in our new offices, one-on-one time, and lots of dreaming and planning and fine-tuning of our year ahead. Other groups will follow in 2012 as I am not yet traveling like before….but we are really pleased to have this opportunity to re-connect with so many leaders that are dear to us, and so valuable to our global mission. We did have (and still do) some serious “catching up” to do and I am enjoying this chapter.
This past week, Nancy and I jetted off to New York City for a few days of light shopping and soaking up the Christmas spirit and atmosphere in the middle of Times Square, and the excitement of Manhattan. In many ways this trip could be seen as the “opposite” of what the real Christmas message is (with the ever-present “Santa”, and the bustle of the city) …but it also was a nice return to the beauty and wonder of “life”, as long as we can keep the true meaning of Christ’s birth in our hearts while we seek to bless those we love with some gifts, and enjoy the energy of one of the world’s great cities. The cold air, the long walks along Fifth Avenue, or Central Park, the dazzling lights of Times Square, the jaunts to Little Italy or Chinatown, the night at the theater on Broadway….what a privilege! (I might never have done that again). I feel like I am seeing in “color” and not just black and white.
We do also see the unfortunate material side of the holiday season, and we are aware of the desperation and commercial promotion of the many retailers as they drop prices to attract the nervous shoppers in this “different” economy. I was again reminded of how blessed we are to be in a position, and in a business, where we are actually growing stronger than ever….and where we deal in opportunity, and hope, not fear. Most are not so fortunate. We even get to travel via Dornan-air as always now, and when we land or depart from Teterboro airport (sparing ourselves the hassles of LaGuardia or JFK), we see a seemingly endless line-up of private jets. Ours was parked right next to one of Amway’s planes, but I don’t know who was there. (Likely one of the family members in for the holidays?) Nancy and I were hit with the recognition of what a privilege we experience as we live in such a way, but we also are conscious of our need to stay focused on the fact that all we have is “on loan” from our Lord, and available to be used for His purpose and glory as well as our pleasure and that of those we love.
For those of you in my “business family”, I sure hope you keep dreaming and visualizing whatever life celebration, accomplishments, or rewards would be meaningful to you. One of God’s gifts to us is the talents and passions he builds into each of us…and our gift back to our creator is in how we use those gifts. Life is an adventure, and it is to be lived to the full as long as we have breath… but I also hope that our dreams are not just those of “acquiring things”, but also of how we can be the best “steward” of God’s blessings. In my opinion, it is simply the gifts, talents, and opportunities that he provides, along with his favor, that allow for us to achieve what we achieve. My point? Enjoy our life and make the best use of our time and talents and opportunities for sure (as there are plenty of challenges and disappointments and pain), but lets all remember to keep the “main thing the main thing”. In John 10:10 Jesus says; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. He is our provider and advocate. We are in good hands.
In my devotional reading today, I was again shown the great need to be fully aware of our individual responsibility to maintain joy and right priorities whether we are in a “desert” experience or in a time of prosperity and celebration.
Here is what I read:
Have you ever felt tempted to look at your accomplishments with pride as if you were the reason for your success? Have you ever thought your prosperity was due to your ingenuity? Has your material success been a testimony to others that God is the ruler of all aspects of your life, even the material side?
Joseph’s greatest test was not his temptation to be bitter against his brothers. It wasn’t the sexual temptation that came inside Potiphar’s house. It wasn’t even the discouragement of years of imprisonment for being wrongfully accused. It was the temptation of prosperity and ownership. Once he was elevated, he was given choices that he never had before. It was totally up to him as to which choice he would make. Stewardship reveals what we believe about God and ourselves.
Not every man can carry a full cup. Sudden elevation frequently leads to pride and a fall. The most exacting test of all to survive is prosperity. -Oswald Chambers
Do you have a proper understanding of who you are? Do you understand that it is God who has given you the ability to work and achieve? He is the source of all good things. Ask God today if your life models this belief.
Amen! So as I am feeling grateful for my life and my health and my family, I am determined to enter this season and this coming year with a renewed sense of mission, and a more conscious joy for the “little things”. As I reflect on my time with the leaders from far away places, and the on-going reports and letters I get from so many of you, I will indeed focus on what a Merry Christmas this is. Merry to be alive, Merry to have a life so full and rich with friends and purpose, Merry to know I am safe, and saved, and even “Merry” that I ever became aware of my “need” for a savior at all. To know that we are” lost” is a great place to begin. To know that we need help and forgiveness to achieve anything of lasting value, and to know God has provided that gift and that solution through His only son so many years ago…is to know why it is indeed a Merry Christmas for so many of us who share in this belief.
John 3:16 is perhaps the most quoted scripture there is: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life”.
Hmmm….God loved, so God gave, and we believe, and He saves; a Christmas gift for ALL people at all times.
When someone gives me a gift at Christmas…. or any other time…I certainly should accept it. I wouldn’t consider trying to pay for it either as that would be kind of insulting. A gift is a gift. Our earthly health is a gift, and surely the undeserved and free offer of eternal life is the ultimate gift.
Nancy and I so love our big global family! Your prayers and your loving encouraging messages have been life-giving to me. I pray that you each have a blessed time this season, and that your years ahead are filled with joy, rewards, purpose, satisfaction, humility, great faith, and even the gift of salvation, as we continue our journey together into 2012.
As Paul said so well:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12.13)
Thanks for being there this year. Without you, my Lord, and dear Nancy, I would have been lost! We all have the gift of opportunity and the power of God’s promises with which to face the year ahead and dream of what we can do or become. With our eyes on the Lord and his wisdom and direction, we can expect to prosper and have joy as we trust and obey. What amazing things can happen in one year! And we can count it all joy because he lives.
Merry Christmas to all.