By Holly Culhane
A number of manufacturers do it. For inspiration or marketing purposes, or simply to provide a reason for the user to hang on to the product’s wrapper, they provide quips, quotes, or verses on the packaging of their products. It can be on the tab of a teabag, the bottom of a 16-ounce cup, or the lowest portion of a shopping bag.
This morning as I sat at my laptop in a hotel in Orlando and decided to explore the ingredients of the protein bar I had just consumed (I know, I should have done that sooner!), it was there…
“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”
I immediately thought of the last year – 2023.
For a variety of reasons, that year was one of the most difficult roads Doug and I have walked in our 40 years together. It took me to my knees in prayer, as well as to lying flat-out prone on the ground seeking the Father, to [brutal honesty alert] lifting my hands upward not in praise but in complete frustration giving God “what-for” about all we were experiencing and asking Him “what in the world He wanted from me”. [I warned you!]
Then, my mind raced forward to the present day, January 2024.
I have no idea what the entire year will hold, but I do know that He has taken us to a beautiful destination. By His grace, He has revealed a glimpse of what He was doing in us and for us in 2023.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3-8
In spite of my responses, those full of faith and those lacking it, our Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd walked that difficult road with us, leading us – when we chose to follow – to a deeper faith. A faith beyond the optimism a protein bar quote can provide to the solid Word of the God of the universe.
That, dear fellow shepherd leader, is the “beautiful destination”: an unwavering belief in what we cannot see but know to be true, moral excellence, practical knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, Christlikeness, a love for those in the body of Christ, and a love for every person outside that body, as well.
That, dear fellow under-shepherd, is where we should be leading those the Father has entrusted to our care.