“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
~1 Peter 5:10
Entering 2014, knowing nothing about the details of what God had in store for me and my family, I realized that it would be less about New Year’s resolutions and more about past year reflections. With the sun now set on 2014, I’ve been busy with the reflecting. Through the course of the year, I carefully recorded the events that have taken place under God’s sovereign orchestration in the life of my family, and discerned the patterns and themes – much the same way I do when I study biblical narratives. Without a doubt, 2014 will go down as a memorial year, one that I foresee myself rehearsing to future younger ministers who the Lord may someday send my way for encouragement in the midst of fiery trials. For the Cuevas family, 2014 will go down in the books as the year of reconstruction.
1 Peter 5:10 promises, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Its a timeless truth worth remembering that God always reconstructs, renews, and re-establishes the child who He breaks. For those called according to His purpose, He may hurt them, but never will He harm them. When 2014 rolled around, I held fast to this truth wholeheartedly, though I knew not of God’s timeline or blueprint for my life. I pressed at times, but He always directed. And as I now step forth toward the horizon, I look back at a life sovereignly reconstructed by the Master Builder, just as He had promised.
He reconstructed my ministry. I suppose that it’s a bit ironic, if not prophetic, that the pastor who wrote the very first book that I read to completion during seminary became the pastor who I would ask me to serve under and alongside him and disciple me in the process. But exactly one year after I exited my previous ministry, I was offered the privilege to minister as part of the staff at Grace Bible Fellowship. It’s been six months since, and what a wonderful opportunity it has turned out to be. Being back in the wetlands of ministry with such God-fearing and discerning teammates has brought a joy to my heart that only a minister would truly understand. Regarding my commission both within the church and outside the church, I can’t help but rejoice in once again having to regularly pray for God to give me the strength and wisdom to carry out my responsibilities, have a redemptive impact on people, and fulfill my ministry. As John MacArthur once said, “You take care of the depth of your ministry; God will take care of the breadth of it.” 2014 was the year when my ministry reached its greatest depth and breadth.
He reconstructed my training. With a renewed ministry came a renewed standard of ministry. And with a renewed standard came a need for further ministry training. 2014 was the year when my true post-seminary training started. Doctrinally, I’m currently in the process of revising my systematic theology ordination project and working on a biblical theology project under the tutelage and partnership of one of the more respected and endorsed Bible teachers and authors. Regarding biblical counseling, I’m finally back under formal training under the supervision of one of the more renown biblical counselors and authors in the community. Regarding church administration, I’ve been working alongside a former business-owner-turned pastor to add to what was a most lacking part of my skill-set. In just about every facet of ministry, God has placed me under the care and leadership of the very best. It’s a beautiful thing not just to once again be a minister, but also a student. Let’s hope that this reconstructed training truly blesses those whom God intends to be affected by it.
He reconstructed my philosophy. With a reconstruction of my training came a reconstructed philosophy of life, ministry, and relationships. When a man is trained differently, he starts to think differently. It’s not so much that my doctrinal convictions changed over the course of 2014, as much as it was that God renewed almost everything about the set of values and priorities with which I approach church ministry and relate to people. It’s akin to the mental change that a person undergoes when he immigrates into another country and changes his citizenship. It took a while for me to get used to this new way of thinking and living, much like it took me a while to get used to removing beef and butter from my diet. But through the course of the year, God has sharpened my lenses regarding communication, preaching, relational reconciliation, leadership, discipleship, and counseling, friendships, and responsibilities within the church and family.
He reconstructed my circle of relationships. The input a man receives comes not only from the Word of God, but also from those who surround him. While I’m a big proponent of faithfulness and loyalty in relationships, there are seasons of life during which the Master Builder almost completely – if not entirely – restructures your relational community of friends, ministry partners, mentors, colleagues, and younger people to invest in. 2014 was the year of such. Again, think of the immigrant. Certain friends will be lifelong pillars of support, and I’m truly grateful for such stones. But to have the opportunity to bless, be blessed by, and live amongst an entirely new community of believers is a unique opportunity in a young man’s life. I’m grateful that the Lord did this, though I may have initially been hesitant. 20/20 hindsight, as they say.
He reconstructed our family life. Every facet of a man’s life impacts and interweaves into the life and morale of his family, whether or not he intends them to do so. Thus with a reconstructed ministry, philosophy, and relational sphere comes a reconstructed family life. I realized that a man must take great pains to cultivate a healthy atmosphere in which he raises his wife and children. In the end, however, it remains in the hand of the Lord. He was wise in both transforming and nourishing the new soil in which my wife and children are currently growing, as the Cuevas family is flourishing.
He reconstructed my heart. In all transparency, my heart was shattered in 2013. While I never did lose my vision or loosen in my conviction, there was a large dose of discouragement that had I almost felt intoxicated by for much of the year. But with all the positive restructuring of walls that happened in 2014, so the Lord renewed my heart and built a solid foundation of encouragement and hope that has strengthened my knees for the race of faith once again. In the midst of the activity and work, words of Nehemiah 8:10 have shed their truth: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I thank the Lord deeply for what He accomplished in 2014. I trust Him whole-heartedly for His plans to pastor, provide for, position, protect, and prosper our family in 2015 for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-6). Happy New Year to you all!