December 23, 2017
As we come to the end of 2017, I am reflecting on this year’s word: story. There certainly were ups and downs in these last twelve months, and things I couldn’t have predicted. At the start of the year, I could not have guessed how much I would rely on the idea that You are writing the arc of my story, and that I don’t need to see how all of these twists and turns will ultimately unfold. You are uncovering a great finish for every loose end, and You already know how it will resolve, and it will be good. And I believe it, God, even in those cases where I can’t quite see it yet. There are great glimpses of bright light on my road now, and I couldn’t have predicted those, either. This year for me has been about trust; entrusting my dear ones to you, and trusting You for my path. It was messy and dark at times, but by the grace of You, I have come a long way and I can now rest in Your presence in a way I never could before, and I am truly grateful.
As I turn the page to next year, 2018’s word came to me pretty quickly as I read the story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis. In a dream, You revealed ascending and descending angels as You promised him an incredible future, a huge sphere of influence, and your never-ending care of him and his family-to-come. When he woke from his dream in the midst of the desert, a rock for his pillow, Jacob stated the obvious:
“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
I have felt the same, walking out a road in the desert and completely missing the miraculous way in which You work in these dry times. But I’m learning, Lord, and I feel like you’ve given me a new pair of glasses for this next stage of life. Through this lens, I am beginning to see how You labor in the deserts of our lives to teach us the beauty of dependence on You alone, and the great lengths You go in each of our days to shower us with blessings. There is so much happening just outside our field of vision, and as the blind man said to Jesus in the book of Mark, “Teacher, I want to see.”
In the year to come, I promise to look for the ways in which You’re working that might not be readily known. I promise to light candles of prayer and silence to help me find my way in the darkness. I ask that You take my hand and lead me as we walk, continually clearing the mud and scales from my eyes as we make our way forward together toward the light.
At the same time, something in my spirit is telling me that much of what I’ve labored over, prayed and waited for, and worked toward will come to pass this year. Like bulbs under the cold ground, much has been in process, and it’s my hope that I will see the fruit of it poke through the dirt and the muck in this new year. My devotionals are leading me to this belief, and the Advent scriptures are confirming the idea. As Elizabeth said in Luke, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
You have promised me a lot, and much of it I have shared only with the smallest handful of the most trusted people in my life (thank You for them). With a new clarity and gratitude, I see my sweet husband, my beautiful children, my dearest friends. I see the ways in which my life has been fruitful, and how much more I could do. This year, I saw a half-marathon finish line, the shining faces of my students, the fruit of ministry, and a whole new (global!) readership for my writing. This year I’ve believed, and today I can say I’ve trusted. It is my deepest prayer that in the coming year I can say with Mary, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” As I watch this year unfold, a year you already hold in Your hand, let me see it through the lens of your grace and love. Let me share what I see in a way that’s helpful and fruitful. Let me see the people who feel unseen, and Your grace at work in small ways. Let me bring light to a dark world as you’ve brought light to mine.
Thank you, God, for writing an unpredictable, beautiful story in my one small life this year. As I turn the page on this chapter, I can’t wait to see what’s next.