I spent much December, as I presume many did, reflecting on the year-gone-by and prayerfully making decisions about how I choose to live my life these next 365 days.
2014 was a good, hard year, and I am grateful for every good, hard moment. I look back and see the manifest presence of God in my life, and I end the year with an overwhelming sense of gratitude — not because I accomplished all the goals I’d set (I didn’t); not because the year wasn’t riddled with challenges on every level (it was); not because I got it all right (I definitely didn’t); not because of the numerous victories and triumphs (there were many). And not just because God wowed me in ways that made Ephesians 3:20 an even greater reality in my life (He did)!
I am blessed and I am grateful because it was a good, hard year! Had it been good without the hard, I may have missed the transformative lessons it presented; I may have rejected the wisdom it offered; I may have overlooked the blessings that manifest in hard places or, worse, taken them for granted. I’d have entered 2015 a very different person than I am today. I’d have entered the New Year unarmed and unprepared. Had it been hard without the good, I wouldn’t have recognized every challenge as an opportunity for growth and greater faith; I may have grown cynical and disdained the wisdom the year offered; I may have dismissed even the most obvious of blessings as such. I’d have entered 2015 a very different person than I am today. I’d have come into the year unarmed and unprepared!
2014 offered me the privilege of living out (or, in some instances, relearning) the lessons of 2013 and all the years prior to that! It was a year of testing what I truly believe about the God to whom I have committed my life and what I have come to believe to be true about myself. I did well in some areas; not so well in others. But even in the not-so-well, I believe I learned and grew!
Yes, the blessing is in the “good hard”.
It was a hard year because life is what it is and the “stuff” of life happens. I experienced some of the same challenges others did –in family, in health, in finances, in relationships. Experienced loss, disappointment, misunderstanding. Battled with fear! Made bad choices! But because of the lessons of past “good hard” years (and believe me, this year pales in comparison to others) I have learned God can be trusted! I know something of the grace of God, the peace of God and the wisdom of God. Have learned how to rest in Him and receive His all-sufficient grace rather than taking to my bed with a half gallon of triple chocolate gelato when the vicissitudes of life come. I have learned to respond differently, cling to God alone and simply trust because He has always proven Himself to be faithful.
Hard because we have a real enemy and I am not exempt from his onslaughts. He came at me – mostly in my mind. Good, nonetheless, because I have learned to fight from the position of one who is always triumphant. I have learned to recognize his method of operation more quickly. Past battles have taught me how to wield the weapons in my spiritual arsenal – the weapons that are not carnal, but mighty through God. I know because He has already won, I emerge more than a conqueror!
Hard because there were times that I was frustrated that I was not seeing around me what I know Holy Spirit had shown me or spoken to me. Hard because I allowed the busy-ness of life, allowed the “what-I-need-to-do” all too often supersede the “what-I’m-created-to do” and simply weary me. Hard because the dream, vision, the promise just didn’t seem to come together; hope waned a bit. I knew I was created for more, but I found myself smalling up to fit the place I was in instead of enlarging the place of my tents to expand and grow. Good, however, because just at those moments of discouragement and near acquiescence, God allowed me to rediscover my “sweet spot,” my “grace zone” and reminded me, “This is who I’ve created you to be and this is what I’ve called you to do. It’s not lost! I’ve not reneged on My promise! And you will walk out purpose and destiny!”
It was in the hard that I learned a lot about myself, about the person I am becoming in Him and what it means to courageously step into all He has called me to be. It was in the hard that I also discovered who I am not and have courageously stepped away from the lies to simply say, “I am not that person anymore!”
Most importantly, I have seen my God in ways I have not seen Him in previous good, hard years! I have encountered His love, grace, power, strength, glory, magnificence in deeper, grander ways than I may have had it not been the kind of good, hard year it was.
It was a year of rediscovery, of refocusing, of realignment, of remembering, of redefining. A year of remolding, of reshaping! A year of revelation!
And revelation requires response!
So I enter 2015 armed with the good, hard lessons and revelations from 2014 with greater resolve to:
Allow God to be all He desires to be not only in my life, but also through my life!
Live truly and courageously as I continue to become all He created me to be!
Always remember who I am in the I AM and allow all I do to flow from that knowledge!
Allow Christ to be formed more perfectly in me!
And remain grateful in all things – the good and the hard!
Happy New Year!