We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
Romans 8:28 The Voice Bible
It’s New Year’s Eve, and I, like many, sit reflecting on the year gone by—not just 2022 but the years since we entered this decade. The decade began in ways none of us could have anticipated, and as I enter a new phase, a new year, I want to make sure I do so, having profited from all the past three years have taught me. What are the lessons learned? What do I take with me into the new? What must I leave behind in old? I want the coming year to be a greater fulfillment of that which the Lord has spoken to me.
2022 was what I have termed a “good, hard” year (as was 2020 and 2021). I have learned to be 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 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 be entering the new year as 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 the new year a very different person than I am today. I’d be coming into the year unarmed, unprepared, unchanged, unresolved.
2022 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 rested. I did well in some areas; not so well in others. But in it all, I learned and grew! He continued to perfect me.
Yes, the blessing is in the “good hard.”
It was a hard year because that’s just a part of the journey—the “stuff” of life happens. I experienced some of the same challenges many did—in family, in health, in finances, in relationships. Experienced loss, disappointment, misunderstanding. Battled with fear! Made unwise choices! But because of the lessons of past “good hard” years (and believe me, this year pales in comparison to some others), I know God to be trustworthy! I know something of the grace of God, the peace of God, and the wisdom of God I did not know before. 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 to God alone, and simply trust His word to me. He has never failed me. 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. Good, nonetheless, because I have learned to fight from the position of one who has already won. I have learned to recognize satan’s method of operation more quickly. Past battles have confirmed that he is a liar. 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 Jesus has already won, I always 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 busyness 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 as I’d believed. Hope was deferred. I knew I was created for more, but I found myself all too often “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 the Deborah I 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. The Deal is Still One!”
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—unapologetically. It was in the hard that I also discovered who I am not and courageously stepped away from the whispered lies of the enemy to simply declare, “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, His 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 2023 armed with the good, hard lessons and incredible revelations from the year gone by with greater resolve to:
- Trust in wider, deeper, broader, ridiculously crazy ways!
- Love extravagantly because I am loved extravagantly!
- Give generously because He gives so generously 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 who He has always known 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!
- Stay focused on Him and not allow distractions to deter me from my God-breathed purpose and destiny
- Live large and dream BIG in Him
- Soar—it’s time to fly!
- Show my Shine!
- And remain grateful in all things—the good and the hard!
Happy New Year!