In 1997 my little church’s youth group went to an event by the group Teen Mania that did youth mission trips all over the world. I wanted to go to Alaska. My little church helped me raise money for the trip, they gave me money, they helped me do a car wash, we sold food. My grandparents, the same ones who took me to the little church, gave me a loan and I was on my way in the summer of 1998.
Going to Alaska for almost a month changed my life. I got focused. On that trip I ate peanut butter and jelly almost every day for lunch. I talked to Jesus and read my Bible every single day. I was surrounded by God’s beauty and traveling with a group that loved God. Some of the friends I made on that trip are still part of my life even today. In Alaska I was awestruck by how much God loves everyone.
So many things happened during that trip that made it clear to me that God is real. A friend was healed of major back pain for the entire trip. We prayed with runaways. We prayed with strangers on the beach. We saw a baby humpback whale and it rocked our boat. We saw a glacier up close and saw blocks of ice fall into a lake. We climbed a mountain. We saw God working. We walked around praying for cities and people and sharing God’s love.
In those days Jesus became my very best friend.
I’m thankful for new life. A few days ago I was able to photograph a brand new baby girl. It reminded me of all that is good in the world. Only God knows the plans He has for this precious little one.
There is much hope in new life. God has given me a new life through his son Jesus. I no longer have to live in bondage to my sins. I get to live covered by love and forgiven of my sins. God makes all things new.
One of the first things that I read today was that one of my friends, who is my sister in Christ, lost her baby in still birth. I am completely heartbroken for her. We do not know why this life was lost much too soon. I know what it is to hope for a baby and have that hope shattered into a million tiny pieces after experiencing miscarriage.
Death is a part of life. Death is reminder that this life is not all that there is and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are only a speck in the great cosmos and our life is only a vapor. There is no life without death. If you want to have a new life in Jesus the sinful part of you must die in order for you to have a new life with God. Earthly death is not the end for those who believe in Jesus. It is only the beginning of an eternity spent with God.
I am thankful that I can look at life and death with hope. In life and death there is hope for today and hope for eternity.