Looking back over the past two years, like most of the world, there’s a part of me that can’t help but wish that so much of these past 24(ish) months didn’t happen. Lives lost . . . families hurt . . . so much unrest and division and heartbreak for so many reasons. The reality is life as we knew it is gone. We can’t rewind and undo all that has happened.
But then there’s this other part of me . . . it’s the part that realizes that the challenges . . . the hard stuff . . . even the heartbreaking stuff . . . of the past two years have changed me. They’ve changed how I look at the world. They’ve changed my perceptions. They’ve drawn me closer to God. They’ve deepened my belief in His goodness and His mercy and His transforming power. They’ve transformed and softened and smoothed parts of me I didn’t realize were rough. They’ve brought the realization that priorities matter . . . that boundaries are essential . . . that sometimes standing up for what’s right means you’re going to stand against the world and the culture and other times, it means you’re going to have to stand out and stand up when those who are part of your life, your circle, your church, etc. are refusing to . . . and they’ve shifted my mindset from the earthly to the eternal in a way that did not exist in me before. This life is short. Eternity is forever. God has a calling on my life, on every life, and I know longer want to waste time and energy on so much of the nonsense that goes on around me.
Over the past few months, I’ve been reading on and off in the Old Testament books of the prophets. I’ve read through Ezekiel (not an easy read at all . . . took forever), Daniel (much easier), and now I’m plowing through Jeremiah. And I see so much of our modern world in the children of Israel. God giving chance after chance . . . the children of Israel flat out refusing to repent and living in open defiance of and rebellion toward God’s statutes. I see it both in and out of the church. I see it in myself all too often. Sometimes, in blatantly sinful ways, but also, in ways that are less overt. Less obvious. But just as destructive. As I’ve said before, it’s not about behavior modification . . . about doing and saying all the right things . . . it’s about a heart transformation. About letting the Holy Spirit change me from the inside out.
If you read my last post, then you know that my “word of the year” is grace. Grace not as an excuse to sin but as the means to overcome sin. Grace doesn’t strong arm. Nor does it ramrod its way into people’s hearts. It’s not about control or legalism. Grace . . . true grace . . . the grace extended to each of us when Jesus died for us and took all our sins upon himself . . . has the ability to change everything.
I also have two passages of scripture that have stood out to me as I walk into 2022. Two passages to meditate and ponder and from which to draw strength going forward. Both from the Old Testament, and one, not surprisingly, from the book of Daniel.
“And He changes the times and the seasons;
He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise
And knowledge to those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things;
He knows what is in the darkness,
And light dwells with Him.” Daniel 2:21-22
“Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:3-8
It’s probably not big news to anyone that I can be a fretter. I would use the old cliché, “if it (“it” being fretting) were an Olympic sport, I’d have long ago won a gold medal”, but I’m trying to not be so cliché. Having said that, I can dwell, ruminate, worry, and fret without any conscious thought of doing. It is that ingrained into my way of thinking. But really, it’s a choice. I can choose all of these things. They aren’t healthy. They don’t fix anything. They usually cause me far more trouble and harm than anything. Or I can choose to have peace in the midst of the chaos and calm in whatever storm I’m facing, knowing WHO my Father is. Knowing He is ultimately in control, and He loves me deeply and unconditionally.
My last thought on this New Year’s Eve . . . We cannot know God’s will and ways if we do not seek His heart and His face. We cannot seek His heart if we are continually seeking His hand. If we only look for what He can do for us, but not walking in relationship with Him. God isn’t our Santa Claus. He isn’t just sitting in the sky ready to grant all of our wishes. The words from Psalm 37 say, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” God created us, and He knows us far better than we know ourselves. He knows what is best for us, but we’re not going to know what’s best for ourselves if we’re not seeking Him for all He is . . . if we’re not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the direction of our lives. Our desires, the true desires of our heart, can only be fulfilled when they line up with His desires and will for our lives. We can acquire all the “things” . . . have the most shiny, beautiful, envious life from the outside looking in and still be miserable because we’re not trusting and seeking our Creator.
May 2022 bring you peace and joy in the midst of all the madness. May you find yourself drawing closer to Him and resting in His deep, unchanging, and unconditional love for you.
Happy New Year!
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