The word “thrive” seems to have come on the scene circa 1200 from an Old Norse word in Scandinavia that had the meaning of “to take hold of”; however, the evolution of the word in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish led to “thrive” being connected to the descriptor of “flourishing.” This evolution of its definition is typically how we understand the word today.
Now, I’m a bit of a word nerd, so forgive me… but the idea of thriving being to seize or take hold of something resonates much more deeply today at the end of 2020 than any other reimagined definition of the word. To help you understand why, I need to back up a moment…
Back in July, it was becoming very clear that our annual event (CPC) would not be able to be held in person. For a number of reasons that I won’t go into here, our leadership team had to make the prayerful decision to move the event completely online. Like so many of you who have had to navigate decisions you didn’t want to make this year, we moved forward into a new way of accomplishing the mission and depended wholly on His provision.
The night in August before I had to share the news about our decision with the community, I was on my knees expressing to the Lord that this is an offering I never wanted to make, but I would purpose to believe He could do with it more than I could see. In those moments, the Spirit brought to mind the account of Abraham’s journey up the mountain with Isaac… a man holding on to a promise, making a journey toward an offering he never wanted to make. Hebrews 11 gives us a beautiful little window into what Abraham was processing, however, on the journey up the mountain.
In verse 19, we see that Abraham – with each step and catch of his breath – was reasoning in his heart about the character of the God he had given his whole life to. He considered that God was faithful, and would be faithful again. That no matter what the circumstances around him might look like, the Lord would not fail to keep His promises. So, if the offering had to be made, then he reasoned that the Lord must also have the power to raise the sacrifice to life again.
Was Abraham skipping up the mountain with a fist full of balloons as a rainbow filled the sky? Of course not. But this is often the degree to which we feel like thriving should appear in our lives… that thriving and flourishing look like the absence of hard journeys, unexpected challenges, and gut-wrenching struggles.
Yet, as I read about Abraham in Genesis and Hebrews, I believe he was thriving as a follower of the one true God on his way up that mountain. In his obedience, he took a hold of the Truth and rested all of his hope on the One he believed could raise everything around him to newness of life. With each step toward what he couldn’t fully make sense of, he was thriving in his faith. As the hot tears might have come out of his eyes as he was raising his hand over Isaac on the altar, his belief in the promises of Adonai was thriving. This difficult scene presents two seemingly opposed ideas by the near-sighted vision of this world, but Abraham had eyes to see from an eternal perspective.
So, my friends, our journey up the mountain towards offerings we never really wanted to offer may not be completed; yet, may we not confuse the absence of struggle with thriving. To depend on Him for the strength that is needed, to reason in our hearts about His character no matter our circumstances, to take hold of His promises with childlike faith… this is the very essence of thriving.
My friends, as we close a year like 2020 and embark on what the Lord has for us in 2021, my prayer is that you will take hold of ALL that the Lord is and what His Word promises to you. I pray, as you depend on Him for each step and breath, that you look backward AND forward with eyes filled with eternal perspective. I pray your faith is strengthened and your courage is deepened to make the offerings He is asking of you. I pray you thrive.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a)