It’s my usual practice to spent time during December reflecting on the year-gone-by and prayerfully making decisions about how I choose to live the next 365 days.
2019 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 provided. I may have overlooked the blessings that manifest in hard places or, worse, have taken them for granted. I’d be entering 2020 a very different person than I am today. I’d be entering the New Year unarmed, unprepared, unchanged, unresolved. 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 be entering 2020 a very different person than I am today. I’d be coming into the year unarmed, unprepared, unchanged, unresolved.
2019 offered me the privilege of living out (or, in some instances, relearning) the lessons of all the previous years! Allowed me to live the word that has been engrafted in my soul; to allow that word to be made flesh in me. 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 in Him. A year of seeing where my faith truly rests. I did well in some areas; not so well in others. But through it all, I learned and matured! He continued to perfect me in the good and in the hard.
The blessing is in the “good hard.”
It was a hard year because life is what it is. I experienced some of the same challenges many did—in health, in finances, in relationships. Experienced loss, disappointment, misunderstanding. Battled with fear! Made some bad choices! But because of the lessons of past years, I know 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 more deeply 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 more securely to God alone and simply trust His word to me. He has never failed me; He never will. 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 at times out of left field, always with the intention of causing doubt in attempt to move me out of God’s purposes for my life. Good, nonetheless, because I have learned to fight from the position of one who has already won. I have learned to recognize his method of operation more quickly. Past battles have confirmed that he is defeated. Past battles have taught me how to wield the weapons in my spiritual arsenal—weapons that are not carnal, but mighty through God. I know because of the finished work off Jesus Christ, I always emerge more than a conqueror!
Hard because there were times that I was frustrated that I was not seeing in my life what I know Holy Spirit has shown 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, the vision, the promise just didn’t seem to come together. I knew I was created for more, but I found myself sometimes “smalling up” to fit the place I was in. 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! You are who I say you are and will do all I have called you to do.”
It was in the hard that I learned more 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—unapologetically. It was in the hard that I also discovered who I am not and have courageously stepped away from the lies to simply say, “That is not who God calls me!”
Most importantly, I have seen my God in ways I have not seen before. 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 2020 armed with the good, hard lessons and revelations from 2019 with greater resolve to:
Trust God in wider, deeper, broader, more ridiculously crazy ways to see His promises fulfilled in my life.
Love more extravagantly because I am so extravagantly loved by Him!
Live from a place of overwhelming generosity because He’s been so generous to me!
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 always remain grateful in the good and in the hard!