Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
Fear not for you will not be ashamed. (Isaiah 54:2–4a)
A favorite gift from Christmas was from my ten-year-old son who had written the verses above for me to frame. One of the most reliable ways for me to reorient my heart when I get off track or when mundane responsibilities lull my heart to sleep is to look up and consider something bigger than myself, especially God’s work in his world and how he is letting me be part of it. For the past 9 months, I have hung these words like a banner over my heart to help me, and sometimes they have yanked me out of a stupor of selfishness in order to capture moments more purposefully and cheerfully and without fear. I love the power of God’s Word to do that! And I know I so desperately need his Word running through me to remind me, correct me, and shape me. My son has heard me quote this passage many times as I fight to remember (and also celebrate) that God has let us be part of his advancing mission through the work of the servant Christ. It was a precious gift to me because I live with my heart, and I know how this passage has and is changing me, day by day.
Our years at Bethlehem have taught me to see and savor Christ in his Word—not as a slogan, but truly and progressively as we walk with him and learn to feast more and more on his Word as our daily bread. And our time at Bethlehem has fueled our hearts for the great ingathering mission of God, through Christ.
As we close out our chapter of serving with Bethlehem College & Seminary (at least in the very direct capacity that we have these past 10 years), this verse again helps my heart. It is not easy to uproot from those we love here and from the mission that we still celebrate here, and we are feeling the stretch in a whole new way! But when I look up and consider what God is doing far and wide, and what our hearts have filled up with during our time at Bethlehem, our hearts thrill, and our tent pegs feel strengthened. We find courage for what lies ahead because of the mission of Christ, and this pushes us to look even further ahead to the hope of Revelation 7! I can hardly wait for this!
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:9–12, 16–17)
As I think of these verses and of our launching out and of all our recent grads who are also spreading out and of the ongoing mission of Bethlehem College & Seminary, this is my heart cry: “More Father, gather in more. Bring more to this joy and peace with you! Help us not to fear; help us not to hold back!”
Will you join me in praying this over Bethlehem College & Seminary as it hones in its focus for kingdom advancement? Will you pray that the students, staff, and faculty can be aligned with such a vision? And will you pray for the greater mission of Christ—that his bride will be kept pure, strengthened and true?
- Pray for our graduates as they launch out into God’s call on their lives for his glory.
- Pray for Bethlehem as we continue to equip students for ministry in all the varied locations and ways the Lord has called them.
- Pray for the funding of the final Serious Joy Scholarships as we near our fiscal year end, June 30.
- Pray for our students and faculty as they head out across the United States and abroad on missions trips.