United Church of God

Letter From Lewis VanAusdle - April 21, 2023

Letter From Lewis VanAusdle

April 21, 2023

Letter to the Congregations: 22nd April 2023

Our Dear Brethren,

The sky was clear so every constellation and every individual star could be pointed out. The moonlight shone bright enough that we could see clearly for miles. As we sat on top of the rounded rock overlooking the desert sands, I could see the campfire off in the distance, and the headlights of a truck driving along the flat expanse of the valley below. There were no trees of any kind to inhibit our view of the boulders, cliffs, and mountains that scattered the valley in every direction. It was one of those moments that reminded me of how small I am in comparison to all that God has created. 

"Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow" (Psalm 144:3-4). David was inspired to ask this question in two different psalms written to give praises to God (see also Psalm 8:4). King David had seen the people of God protected from their enemies many times. He had personally been humbled by the thought that the Almighty would possibly look down from His throne in heaven and pay attention to him.

As he lamented the fact that he was still alive and still in pain, Job asked the same question. "I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone, for my days are but a breath. What is man, that You should exalt him, that You should set Your heart on him, that You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment. How long? Will You not look away from me, and let me alone till I swallow my saliva? Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O watcher of men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to myself" (Job 7:16-20)? Of course Job didn't yet understand that God had allowed him to be tested so he, although considered a righteous man, could continue to grow in his understanding of who had created him and how he truly fit into the Creator's plans.

Every single human being is small in comparison to the entirety of the creation. Every person is minuscule in comparison to the glory of both God the Father and His Son the Christ who sits at His right hand in heaven. In fact we are even "a little lower than the angels" (see Psalm 8:6). For a time, Jesus Himself was made a little lower than the angelic beings so He could complete a very crucial part of the plan of salvation for mankind: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9). It is through the suffering that the Christ endured that we "are being sanctified" and have the opportunity to be considered His "brethren," part of the family of God (see Hebrews 2:10-12). This is the plan that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have been working on since before the beginning of the world. There is a plan of salvation for all of mankind in the works.

It is human curiosity that causes us to look up and out and see what there is beyond ourselves. We were created with the desire for "eternity in [our] hearts," but cannot attain it or understand it without our eyes being opened by God (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). When we look out and see the grandeur of creation, or when we experience pain and sadness in life, or when we consider the blessings we have when others suffer, if we look up and ask our Creator why He has paid attention to us, perhaps we can be reminded that there is a plan in place to make us members of His family. A plan that lets us choose eternal life. A plan that includes all of humanity no matter how great we might think we are or how small we might think we are.

Our love is with you,

Lewis VanAusdle

Pastor, United Church of God

NYC, NJ, CT, Malawi, Zimbabwe