And the Winner is…

December 31st, 2017

It’s December 31. Cue resolutions in 3…2…1…

If you have talked to me at all about New Year’s Eve/Day, you know I’m not a fan of it. You probably read my blog about it a few years ago. As I looked back at what I’d written “a few years ago,” it was a few more than a few…. It was six years ago. Six years. Thinking about six years ago, I remember what life was then, and what life has been and has become since then. And I’ve changed. You have too. Wow, have we changed.

I’m about to get brutally honest with you – and, outside of what I’m saying here, no, I don’t want to talk about it. Many of you don’t know that I’ve carried a heavy heart the past couple of months. I don’t tend to share things like that publicly. But without bleeding all over you, I’ll tell you how it’s affected and changed me.

I was fighting a fight that I couldn’t win. And in the end, my knuckles were bloody, my face was tear-stained, and my heart was broken. I was asking God to move mountains and part waters. Quite literally, if you know my situation. /deep breath/ God didn’t move the mountains, and He didn’t part the waters. It was gut-wrenching, y’all. (I wish I could say that and not sound weird… I’m just too northern.) I prayed and prayed. I kept asking for a fix, to be enough. My fight came to a climax (or maybe an end, depending upon how you look at it) a few weeks ago. Basically, God said, “that’s enough of that.” With a “bang,” I was done fighting the fight, and began looking for comfort and healing.

Some of you can identify with the gut-wrenching pain I’ve described. You are over 2017, and ready to start a new year, because it can’t be worse than 2017 was. Now, let me tell you that I will not discount the hurt you experienced in 2017. Not for a moment. There was a lot of pain around me this year. Parents lost, jobs lost, friends lost, homes lost, sons lost, role models lost, siblings lost. It’s been difficult, and those pushed into these losses are left feeling hopeless and helpless. The good news is that our God doesn’t wait until the new calendar year to comfort us. The bad news is, the flip of the calendar isn’t going to mean it’s all gone and all is well. I pray for comfort and answers for you. Our Lord can give comfort like nothing else can.

I had been praying a lot about my situation. But I was asking for the wrong thing. I had been asking to get my way. To fix things so I’d have what I’d wanted. What I was forgetting was that God isn’t a vending machine, and ultimately, His plan is the one we get, whether we like it or not. And ultimately, His plan is better for us than what we can come up with ourselves. It boils down to my lack of trust. I wasn’t trusting Him with the situation, and thought I knew what was best. Will I get what I’d been praying for? I don’t know. I don’t hear a “no” coming from God. But I definitely don’t hear Him saying, “yes.” So maybe it’s a “just wait.” Whichever of the three it is, I know He’s got this, and it’s going to work out the way He sees best for me. Patience with God isn’t my strongest trait. I want the road map, and I want it yesterday. Pray I gain patience, dear friends.

Part of me wants to thank my bloody-knuckled time… because it changed my prayer life. Instead of asking for a fix and getting my way, I started asking for contentment, comfort, for His will, and to be drawn close to Him (in that and all situations.) And – you’ll be shocked to know that He responded with just that. It’s not a perfect contentment… I have bad days, because this is still Planet Earth, and my heart is still sinful. I fall for the lying whispers of Satan way more than I should. I should know better, right? I’m a child of God. But Satan would want me (and you) to believe otherwise. Such a slimy guy he is. He’s found some pretty bruising things to say to me. I ask that you pray for me have the wisdom to give him the same treatment Christ did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness:

“You aren’t worth it.” – Even while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) You’re right; it has nothing to do with my worth. Thank God that my salvation isn’t hinged on my worth. I am a terrible, sinful being, and Christ saved me from the depths of death.

“Not even God’s listening.” – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:11-12) Need I say more?

“You aren’t beautiful.” – I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:14) God made me. He doesn’t make mistakes. I am the definition of beautiful… for me, according to God.

There are a thousand other things he’s taunted me with… dancing around me and pointing out every flaw, every mistake, everything that supposedly created the situation I’d been in. But the truth is, the situation ultimately drew me closer to the Lord, so God wins again. I can’t say I’m shocked by that. Spoiler: God always wins.

Many of you are probably planning resolutions to be better in 2018. And while I know those resolutions have good intentions, and will undoubtedly be good for you, I want to challenge you to strive for a soul-changing resolution. I want to challenge you with the following verses of the Word of God:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  

Rejoice always? Pray without ceasing? Give thanks in all circumstances? That’s a tall order. It’s hard to rejoice and give thanks when we are hurting. And with sinful hearts, we won’t be capable of doing this. But I challenge you to strive for these things in 2018. Pray more. Trust Him. Be in the Word daily. God’s will and love will never fail you. He will never leave you. He knows what is best, and He loves you more than anyone else ever could.  And dear friends, I love you. Not nearly as much as our Lord and Savior, but I do try to love you as best a human heart is able.

May God bless you abundantly in 2018 and always.