Whew!! We made it!! I cannot tell you that 2018 will go down as a favorite year of mine. But I can tell you that I am so happy to have survived it!! I feel accomplished that this past year is behind me and where I am as a person today versus where I was as a person a year ago. I feel like I can say I accomplished more personally in my soul this year than probably ever before. I believe I had a lot of obstacles to this year. There were things that happened to me and to people I love that I felt like could have crippled me and stunted my spiritual growth at any turn. But I learned so much about the character and the kindness of God this year. He has held me at every turn and every heartbreak and every disappointment and he has held me together through this year. I feel like I have wrestled with God this year, much like Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis chapter 32. I also feel like I have wrestled with the “rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spriitual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12). Yes there were times this year, I wasn’t sure if the wrestle was with God or against the evil forces, but wrestle I did. And I feel like that even though I may be walking with a limp that God has seen me through! And I give Him all the praise and glory for that!
I learned about promises of God this past year! God will see me through anything that comes in my path. His word tells me he will never leave me nor will he forsake me. He says it over and over in scripture. The Lord does not tell me that bad stuff will not happen. He does not tell me that there will not be things that break my heart or disappoint me. But He does promise to be with me through it all. There were times I had to look hard for Him. There were times all I could do was turn on praise music so that I could keep my focus on Him rather than on the circumstances swirling around me. You see even though He will not leave you nor forsake you, it is up to you to look for Him. I could have kept my eyes more on my problems than on Him but I knew I needed to see Him in order to survive it, so He taught me to keep looking for Him. I found Him in praise music, I found Him in sunrises, I found Him in the laughter and sweet smiles of my grandchildren! I found Him with my friends who held me up in prayer and their friendship. I can promise you there were times this year that I would have preferred to go home after work and pull the covers over my head and make the world go away. But many times I made myself go where people were even though I didn’t feel like it. Just because I knew that those people loved me. Actually there were times I would have preferred not to even go to work, but I went anyway. And I found Him! Over and over again, I found Him because I kept searching for Him.
I also learned about the kindness of God this past year. There are things I prayed for that God answered. He did not have to. I came to realize in my wrestlings that some of the very things I was praying for, might not work out like I wanted. But I did come to realize that even if they did not work out the way I would have written the story, that the greater good was what He would always have in mind. It may not feel like greater good at the time, but He could see the future that I could not see and He would hold me through whatever came my way. I wish I could give you more of the specifics of this but He is still writing the story and I still am not sure exactly how it’s going to work out. But I do trust His heart and I trust His hand on my life to know that He is going to see me through. The kindness of God’s heart wants what is best for me and for mine and for you and for yours. And sometimes the kindness of God’s heart takes people home to be with Him, and sometimes He lets us endure hurt and anguish so that we draw closer to His heart!! And sometimes people get sick and sometimes people die and sometimes people do not do what we think they ought to. But every time if we seek God’s heart we can trust that God is going to walk WITH us. And He will teach us and He will love us and He will give us Hope!
HOPE! This word can be a comforting word but it can also be a scary word because what if things don’t turn out like you hope? Every year I ask God for a word for my coming year. This past year my word at the beginning of the year was Presence! I did not know what it would mean, when I felt Him give me that word! I had thoughts that I was going to learn how to be more present with my people and that it was going to be gloriously beautiful, I had visions of getting up and having my super spiritual quiet time every morning while a revelled in the presence of God while he gave me the wisdom to understand scripture in a way I never had before, but I wanted to learn these things only in my brain. I didn’t really want Him to teach them to me in my heart. Well, I spent alot of time in the Presence of God but it was not like I expected. I read alot of scripture, I listened to alot of sermons, I listened to alot of praise music. I drew into His presence like never before, not because I was some super spiritual person who was working on my knowledge of God, but because I NEEDED Him like never before! He had things to teach me alright but He was not just teaching my brain, He taught my heart a thing or two. I can honestly say that the relationship I have with God after this year has turned out beautiful but it was brought about by much pain and heartache and my NEED for His presence! Well this year I feel like the word He has given me is HOPE! And quite frankly that scares me to pieces! I want to have Hope that things will work out like I want. I want to have Hope that it is going to be a beautiful year but I am scared of what this Hope is going to bring me. But this is my word so I will look to Him for Hope and ask Him to teach me about Hope. And yes even if that means He is teaching my heart! I will cling to the Hope that he has for me.
In His Hope!!