Every year around this time the Lord gives me a word to focus on. A word to take into the New Year. This year it was very obvious that the word is HOPE. I know you need this word too. 2020 has been a year of great losses We have been surrounded by a deep sorrow that surrounds us as we get up, during our days and at night. The world turned upside down in March, and shows no sign of returning to what it was before the pandemic.
What is going to happen next year in 2021? No one knows. One thing we do know is that our hope cannot be in the new year. At the end of December, even before Christmas we start focusing on next year and of course that temptation is even greater when everyone wants this year to end. It will. The day that it ends is December 31st.. that also happens to be my birthday. Every year as the year ends.. my personal year ends. How much do I want to believe things will be better next year? How much do I wish this new year would be easier than 2020 when we had a worldwide pandemic, and I lost my sweet husband to dementia?
That’s right I want to dream of better days.. that somehow the pain will lessen and I will find a new purpose in life. Nothing wrong with that, except it is not the answer. The answer is to be found in this season we are celebrating right now. God came into the world when it needed Him the most and brought us hope. It is a hope that we have right now . Jesus is our hope and He is with us in this mess and in whatever new challenges we will face next year. As we approach Christmas it is an opportunity to remember what He has done for us, and to be thankful that we are not alone in a broken world. We have His promises that lift us above our circumstances and we have the hope of eternity with Him.. where there will be no more tears or sorrow.
We have so much to celebrate as we think about Him and how He has saved us and will always take care of us and provide everything we need as we trust Him. So.. in the sorrow, I am going to rejoice in His goodness. i am going to look ahead.. not with faith in 2021, but with faith in our GREAT GOD.
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Yes.. 2016 was one of the most challenging years yet. I believe that there were some very big lessons that God was teaching me during the trek through the wilderness and I hope they stick..that is always the tricky part. Probably the most important thing for me was actually realizing how much I wanted my own way and how little that had to do with what God was interested in. Yes.. He is very focused on us but not on giving us all the things that we think we should have. It was startling to realize how my own vision for my life was so ingrained in my thinking.. so this year has been a season of letting go..grieving disappointments.. and allowing Him to get to the root of my desires so He could yank them out and replace them with a deeper longing for Him.. Still in process.
I discovered that I had pride that was hidden deep in my heart..that my longing for the things of this world was very much alive.. that I actually don’t look at much from an eternal perspective.. and that I crave things that I see all around me . Living in a very affluent area is the catalyst for seeing the depth of those desires. It is normal here for people to have nice homes, new cars, and many vacations. . Without realizing it those things have gotten under my skin and I found myself thinking.. well, doesn’t everyone else have them? Why would God bless them and not me.. Pretty dangerous territory.. especially if you linger there.
The cure for that is the news.. Syria, Afghanistan, and many other places where people literally have nothing. we are all rich here and I am convicted of being very selfish and ungrateful. What about the pockets of poverty all over this country?.. people without homes, jobs, or hope.. people doing drugs and wondering how their kids will ever have a better life when they can hardly survive.. I am convicted of being shallow and self-centered. Thank you Lord for showing me the dark places in my heart.. What about those who have lost loved ones too soon? Their grief is so deep and so painful.. how could I ever forget that? I know grief and I help people with it.. yet I stand convicted of being self focused and lacking compassion.. Keep digging Lord.
I think you are getting the picture. The wilderness is our school.. it is our gift. Without the dark times and the struggles.. we won’t grow in our faith or learn to trust or be thankful.. He knows what He is doing and yes.. it hurts..yes we want it to stop. So as I grieve the loss of so many things that are never going to happen because it is too late.. and tomorrow as I enter the last year of my sixth decade here on earth.. I praise the Lord for all the suffering.. all the challenges and all the ways that He loves me enough to change me despite my resistance. I am not expecting 2017 to be an easy year.. none of them have been.. but I am expecting God to be working around me and in me.. I trust Him as much as I am capable of doing and rest in knowing that He is faithful even when we are not.
Happy New Year! May the Lord of Glory fill you to overflowing with His goodness and mercy.!!!
The beginning of the year is an opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not writing about New Years resolutions or a list of all the things that I want to accomplish in 2014. What I need right now is a new way to look at the same old difficult things. When the clock struck 12 on Dec 31st, I did not leave my struggles back in 2013. Many of the difficulties of last year are continuing right into January.
So I am taking some steps toward living through the hard things without losing my emotional balance..One focus I have for this year was given to me by a good friend. She purchased a workshop for me called “One little word.” It gives me an opportunity to choose a word and focus on it throughout the year..creating a scrapbook and whatever other means I want to use to get that word inside my heart.
My word is ” REST”. I’ve heard that word for years now..coming to me from the heart of God. It seems unobtainable because of the trials that life continues to bring. Yet the Lord promises us rest and there are many references to it throughout the Bible. So I am going to throw myself into the challenge of learning to rest in all things.. to rest in the Lord.
I hope by the end of this year I can say with confidence..REST is available and I am experiencing it in a deeper way than ever before. If you are interested in taking this workshop, it is available on this website.http://aliedwards.com/
Let’s trust God to bring us our word and to take that word and take it deep into our minds, emotions, body, and spirit this year.
Then Jesus said ” come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
This year feels like it has not really started yet..it seems like I just rolled right into it without really stopping at the end of last year. Usually New Years is a turning point for me. Not this time..I wanted it to be a new beginning.. but somehow that has not happened. I am longing for that feeling of newness..old things falling away and new things taking their place. Not so far..
We were created to long for new beginnings and fresh starts. Our hearts desire second chances..new opportunities. God made us that way..because that is the way He is. He is always doing something new..always creating..always pouring out new life. The problem is we don’t always see it. We find ourselves in the waiting room..until He chooses to release us. We are locked up inside..discouraged or tired..waiting for Him to release us. Our hearts feel heavy ..our spirits weighed down with grief and sorrow.
All of this makes me wonder what will happen in this new year that is only 17 days old. The possibilities are endless. A year from now life could be completely different. A new beginning could be around the next corner..tomorrow, next week, next month, or 6 months from now. We must wait until it is time..continuing to believe in His goodness. His plan is unfolding and He will not fail to deliver all He has promised..in His time. So if you are still rolling into 2012..dragging disappointments from last year with you.. be encouraged. Our God has not forgotten you.. He loves you more than you could ever imagine and He is with you.
The LORD appeared to me in a faraway place and said, “I love you with an everlasting love. So I will continue to show you my kindness.”