This is going to be a different type of blog entry today. I know I haven’t written lately, and I wanted to share why. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know me fairly well. I’m pretty open about who I am, where I’m at, and where God is taking me. The whole point of this blog is to encourage others and be encouraged along the way. I have loved getting to share, even when it’s been hard, and I have loved getting to hear your responses. But this past month, I just didn’t have much in me to give.
Do you ever hit those seasons? The times where you want to give, you want to be a blessing, but you just don’t have much gas left in the tank to keep running forward? That’s where I’ve been. December was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, God showed up and blessed our first ever end-of-year fundraising campaign. I had a wonderful time getting to celebrate the truly amazing things God did in 2018 with all of our talented volunteers and board members. Last year was a break-out year for us in so many ways, and I was definitely feeling the blessing of it.
On the other hand, personally it was a rougher end to the year. There were some cherished dreams and hopes God called me to give up, accompanied by the pain that comes with the letting go of them. And my time with my family, while most wonderful, was different this year. For the first time, we weren’t all together for Christmas. The realization that this next season of family life was going to be quite different hit me with full force, in part I’m sure because I was already feeling vulnerable and weakened to begin with.
Now, do I realize that everyone is alive and well, everyone was able to visit, that God still has amazing dreams for me, and that His good purposes always prevail? Of course. But as I have shared so often, the only way to navigate a tunnel is to go through it. I can know all the right answers all day long. It doesn’t change how I feel, and it was those feelings I had to fight to get in touch with, lay before Jesus, and continually wrestle through with Him so He could show me what I needed to learn and where to go to next.
Two great scriptures really jumped out at me during this time:
Proverbs 11:23 “The desire of the righteous ends only in good”
Proverbs 2:6-11 “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter you heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”
As I’ve wrestled, prayed, cried, laughed and fought to keep embracing openness of heart, God has given me understanding and wisdom. When I felt desolate, He reminded me of times too numerous to count that He has been faithful to me, walking me through each and every situation to help me learn to be more like Him, and to advocate for what He’s placed inside of me unapologetically. I’ve learned that “taking a wrong turn” isn’t really an accurate description for certain choices I make. Rather, they are opportunities: opportunities for growth, for learning, for developing an understanding in me that I needed to have. And even the truly wrong turns aren’t wasted in His hands. He takes it all to lead me onward to good and blessing and light, to every good path. God is so, so amazing!
God always believes in you, and in your ability to grow in your understanding of His perfect, pleasing love. Since Jesus’ sacrifice has made us righteous (wow – still blows me away!), God can be our shield in the storm. He is that stronghold you can go to when you feel weak. You and I can get messy before Him, getting out the fear, the lies, the truths, the anger and anything else we may need to wrestle through with Him. Through that process, He transforms us and leads us forward in victory.
So, here we are in a new year. God, of course, is not bound by time, but as mortals we are, so we appreciate the illusion of a fresh start. The truth is, each and every one of us have the ability to reach for a fresh start, a fresh perspective, fresh truth and growth (even when it’s hard) at any time. It’s never too early or too late to reach toward God’s healing hand. Still, I am excited for what 2019 holds not only for me, but for you and for this ministry. Watch for some cool changes coming to the blog (hint: think new writers!), and for updates on upcoming offerings.
But more importantly, spend some time asking God for His vision for you this year. What does He want you to focus on? What area does He want to grow you in? Is there a word or two He is laying on your heart for you to really hone in on? Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves is making the space to have that conversation with Him so we allow Him to actually guide us to a path that is richer, more abundant and full of blessing than anything we’d find on our own. Yes, it’s also steeper, harder to find, more challenging to navigate, and often requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. Still, it’s this narrower road that leads to victory after victory. This year, may you and I both continue to take it.