This is my inventory week. This is the week that I look back at the past year and see what worked and what didn’t, what I might want to change and what I might want to keep the same. It’s the week that I think about what I learned in the past year and what I want to learn in the coming year so that I keep growing, and keep my mind as sharp as it can possibly be for a simple minded woman. Where do I want to grow in my home life, in my work life and most importantly in my spiritual life? I start this with making a list of the 10 things I learned in the past year. It’s a way to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Some I hate to admit are re-learns and some are new to me. If you allow me I will share my list here today.
1. Trust the Process. This is probably a re-learn or a still learning. But it seems to be a theme that keeps coming up in various circles of my life. I have been walking this walk with Jesus for a long time and I have seen Him answer a lot of prayers for me over time and yes it builds my faith. Yet I still fall into the trap of wanting and wishing He would answer me immediately for some of my prayers. Yet these 3 words keep coming up over and over. I have heard them in sermons, in podcasts and even felt them in my spirit when I was praying over something so that I know that is what Holy Spirit is saying to me. When you look in scripture, rarely did you see an instant answer. David waited approximately 15 years to become king after he was anointed king. The Israelites wandered the wilderness 40 years and Israel waited hundreds of years for the promised Messiah before Jesus was born. There is a process and we humans can’t rush the process, God has a purpose and a plan for every individual and everything under the heavens. We don’t understand His timing but we can be assured that His timing is perfect.
“This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
We can also know that the process to our answered prayers begins the minute we utter the first request. No matter how long it takes, He’s on it.
“Then he said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.’” Daniel 10:12
2. Quiet mornings are good for my Soul! This may be a re-learn too. But I know that being an early riser is what helps me to be a better person. I need my time with Jesus or I can assure you I would not be a very pleasant person to be around.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
3. Relinquish control, I never really had it in the first place. I think the last couple of years have probably taught a lot of us this one. After two of the strangest years of my lifetime, I have learned that I may as well hold the things in my heart loosely. There are things I have wanted to hold tight to, my family, my health, my friends. I like to hold tight to the things I love. The problem is when you hold on too tight you can start to suffocate, either them or you. I am learning that I can hang on to the things that are important with more of an open hand. What I mean here is I can hold them in my heart all the while I lay them at Jesus’ feet. I can’t fix people, I can’t fix circumstances but I can treasure them in my heart and I can lay them down at Jesus feet, and I can ask Jesus to fix me in the – ahem – process!
4. Hope is not lost. Even when I think things aren’t going as I think they should, as long as I have Jesus, there is always hope.
“And hope does not put us to shame (disappoint NKJV), because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
Paul was talking here about having faith through our sufferings and knowing that our suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope. (see the process again!)
5. Life may not go as I think it is supposed to but it’s usually how it should. Again, I’ve learned to take my hands off more and let chips fall where they may. Or rather to stop trying to juggle the balls in the air myself.
6. To forgive is more for me than for the forgiven but even THIS is a process. Sometimes we think we have forgiven things in the past only to have them rear their ugly head again. I learned this reading Lysa Terkeursts book “How to Forgive what I can’t Forget”. Make no mistake there are places in your heart that will never heal unless you learn to forgive.
7. There are still good things coming out of this Pandemic. We’ve all lost a lot. We’ve lost time with loved ones. We’ve lost freedoms that we took for granted, and we’ve lost people that we didn’t think it was their time to go yet. But every now and again, I will be in a conversation with someone and I will say “well that is a good thing that came out of the pandemic.” Things like wearing a mask in doctor’s office, we probably should have been doing that all along, or not getting up in someone’s personal space. Pay attention, I’ll bet you will discover one or two good things too.
I also learned things that weren’t spiritual but were growing my mind and my creativity.
8. Church finances. I took over as the Treasurer for my church this year and while I still have a lot to learn, I have learned a lot.
9. Painting techniques. I started painting 5 years ago after the death of my sister. I look on those early paintings and what I have painted recently and I am proud of the growth. Again, I still have a long way to go!
And my number 10 is a re-learn as well. And that is …
10. If I look for Him, I will see God in every day. It may be in a baby’s laugh, or a sunrise. It can even be in a foggy day when the sun starts to burn through and the sky is all shimmery. He can be in the eyes of your children or in the grasp of your partner’s hand, the birds of the air and the beasts of the field. I think this is one thing that steadies me and grounds me more than any other and I think it is a re-learn every year. But looking for God and finding Him makes me more grateful and when I live from gratitude, I live with purpose.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Let me challenge you to make a list yourself. You may sit down and write them all at once or you may start your list and have to go back to it for a day or two but I think that it is good for us to see where we’ve been in order to map out where we are going.