Happy New Year friends!
I know the net is packed with new years posts right now... resolutions, year in reviews, and advice on starting over. New year is all those things to me... but it is something more as well.
About 20 years ago I began noticing a pattern. Not a practicing Christian at the time, I didn't fully understand it. I have since articulated, however, the Source and meaning:
Every new year, in January, God puts a message on my heart. A message to symbolize the year ahead. A message that unlocks potential most would call resolutions. I use to make them until I felt led to do something different with them:
It isn't a resolution, exactly, it is a time of prayer and seeking. God, what is your desire for me in the year ahead? How can I serve You, reflect You, show Your love best? I begin to write out and consider how He desires I rise to His call in these aspects. I rewind and fast-forward and through it, through the time, I hope in His desires for the year ahead.
This year, on the flip side of a Christmas that brought a lot of hurt and hardship, unexpected darkness seeking to snuff out the light of the season, my prayers and seekings in New Year's hopes have been in greater earnest.
My journal pages are filling up fast these weeks. My head bows more often then ever and my hope and faith are filling me to step forward each moment knowing His promises will not fail.
God has been drawing me to curb my responses; sometimes the best reaction is to not react. I can't control what others do and say... but I can lean into the Holy Spirit to guide my words and actions. And at the end of the day, it isn't what we have done for ourselves but rather what we are doing for Him, through Him, that helps us sleep at night.
I thought I was handling it... getting it. I didn't believe Sunday's message would be pertinent, I didn't expect it to move me at all. Like many others, Pastor did a year in review. Is that possible? Review messages from a full year... didn't I already get those messages once?
But the montage' of moments from 12 months past was just what the Lord had ordered... pages in my journal filled even more. Yes, I heard these messages, but like any good Word.... you can never hear it enough. He was reiterating my heart's understandings and reminding me of even more.
Like affirmation that my contentment of late has become my own enemy and blotted more fertile spiritual growth. Even contentment in the bad only leads to complaining and disgust. Contentment in the good stifles the great. We even forget, through our contentment, what God has spoken to us... His messages and beseeching, flying away in our sedentary Spirit. We must nail His Word down, etch it in our hearts and not stop till everyone sees it reflected in our ways.
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.
- Hebrews 2:1
A friend told me once when we were transitioning through some great changes and facing hardships, when all else fails and things seem dark, remember what you last heard God telling you and hold onto it.
I'm holding on now!
As I pray through the trials of late, we remembered Ruth from February and how our trials are part of the story God is writing for us. It is through our difficulties that we grow. We are responsible for our own actions, not others. When I shifted from worry and hurt and complaining in what happened over Christmas and instead turned to face God in lieu of facing my problems on my own, my heart swelled with peace. He showed me how my scope and perspective needed changing... He even reminded me how the many trials and adjustments this past year have grown me, humbled me, and caused me to be grateful in ways I never expected. Tears came first but hope was always renewed... it will be this time too.
And as I considered the source of our troubles... the differences in belief and the knowledge of Truth in our extended family, Pastor reminded us it doesn't matter what they think. Let them laugh as people laughed at Jesus when he proposed to revive the dead. Who was left laughing in the end? I can be faithful because Jesus was faithful and all that matters is when I stand before Him in eternity with confidence that I did what I could and I did not shy away because they laughed.
We can not fail in our ambitions Holy inspired. We can not turn from our call to march forward... not because of hurt or fear or uncertainty. Joshua's leadership taught us that. As I thought of family in various states of unbelief, denial, and lashing out with hurtful attacks because I seek to march across the Jordan, I seek to see the walls of Jericho fall, a message flashed across the screen...
They overthrow their father's failures
... and it hit home. Orphaned by a biological father who sides with harsh atheism, separated by in-laws who scream profanities inches from my face... my family tears apart, it writhes in despair... but I will and can overthrow the mantel of hardship and march on for hope. I can prevail in His name, through His strength. Each day can dawn brighter.
On the flip side of Christmas week and at the cusp of a new year dawning Pastor reminded me that our greatest triumphs come after our biggest failures. I believe the most beautiful healing comes after the deepest hurts as well.
I pray, today's post most personal and poured out in hopes of testimony and inspiration, you may have renewed hope in a new year ahead. Whether you make resolutions or simply submit your plans in prayer, may you know His greatest blessings in your life this 2012.
Most humbly yours in Christ!