Every new year, I do something totally original that I’m pretty sure no one else thinks to do: I take a few days to reflect on the previous year. Which actually turns into a few weeks because it’s not like it’s easy to summarize a year within a few days. I write down significant things that happened within the year. Things that were really good. Things that were really hard. And things that were bittersweet.
Whenever I do this, something often seems to happen. My heart and my mind become filled with gratitude as I consider ways that the Lord used those 365 days to teach me more of His character and worth. Prayers of praise and wonder flow forth as I ponder how a greater understanding of who He is inevitably changes who I am. Some years have made it so much easier for me to see His goodness and glory and to recognize ways that my heart and my mind were transformed as a result of such a sight. However, there have been other years when this time of reflection has left me confused and frustrated… even angry that God didn’t work in the ways I wanted Him to and that I was sure would have brought me to a better place spiritually. I’ve been left with unanswered questions, open wounds, and little reason to believe that the year ahead would prove to be any better.
I don’t know why God ordains for time to pass and for events to unfold the way they do because I don’t know the mind of God. But what I do know is that, year after year, an overarching theme that repeats itself within my life is this:
God is faithful.
He is faithful to sustain me and teach me and change me.
He is faithful to place people in my life and to bring me to certain circumstances or situations at the appropriate times to bring me back to Him when I am prone to stray.
He is faithful, even when I am not.
In reflecting on 2019, I’m reminded of this truth in new and different ways.
I think I can say it was a good year overall… which I’m so grateful for given that my times of reflecting on the three previous years didn’t necessarily lead me to the same conclusion.
As I’ve written previously, having so many bad or abnormal days in a row really helps you to see the beauty in the “normal” or mundane days when they return. Just a week or two ago, I was sitting at the park enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery that surrounded me and I had a moment when I realized how rare a morning like that would have been even a year ago.
It was one of those really sweet epiphanies that leads you to a deeper understanding of how precious life is and what a great gift it is to get to live it.
Maybe normal people have those moments all the time, but I don’t. So I can’t take them for granted.
To think of last year and to consider that it was filled with more days of being grateful for my life and happy to be living it truly means a lot to me personally.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t had a lot of those years yet… years that I look back on and think that I’m glad I got to live them. Usually I’m just glad I survived them. But being able to say that I enjoyed them is a blessing words can’t really describe.
Last year brought with it a lot of new.
A new job, a new place to live, new friendships and hobbies, a new romance ;), and new avenues of serving others through various ministries. Thinking back over all of these while also appreciating the “old” things that stayed consistent leads me to a familiar passage of scripture that I’ve come to read and hear in a different light:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope;
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end,
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
I don’t consider it a coincidence (actually I consider nothing a coincidence) that the main devotional I was able to read for most of last year was titled “New Morning Mercies” (authored by Paul David Tripp and highly recommended). Because last year was a year when the Lord opened my eyes to His mercy in ways I hadn’t seen it before. And He made it clear that it wasn’t just last year that He has shown me such mercy. Realistically, He has shown me mercy every year of my life. Even before time as we know it began, He was showing me mercy.
And though I’m far from understanding why He chose to do so, I’m left in awe of this divine mercy and undeserved grace that He has lavished upon me as a result of His eternally good nature.
For once, I don’t have a lot to write out elaborating anymore than I already have. I’m just in a place where I’m able to thank God for what He’s done and where He has me and I want to acknowledge that and rest in it for as long as it lasts. I think I did a decent job documenting a lot of the hard from the past few years, so it just makes sense to write about the good too, right?
I never even know if anyone reads all the way to the end of these monologues, except maybe my mom, so at this point I feel like I’m just talking to myself.
But it’s therapeutic so I guess I’ll keep doing it.
Anyway, my prayer moving into 2020 is to see more of Jesus and to display Him more faithfully to the world around me. To point others to the greatest source of Beauty that exists and to thereby beg the question: “Who or what is greater than Christ?” The more I search for an answer to this question, the more I’m reminded that the answer remains the same: nothing and no one. Truly, He is the pearl of greatest price. He alone can hold the universe together. And He alone is worthy of all I have to give and live for. My heart is filled with gratitude and wonder as it looks back and my eyes are filled with hope and joy as they gaze ahead, fixed upon the One who holds within His hand every good and bad day that may come. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”