“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15
It’s that time of year to pull out the new, clean calendar for 2019 and discard last year’s. As we look forward to the weeks and months ahead, it’s also a great time to reflect over the last 365 days and remember the goodness of God in our lives.
I was reading an article that talked about a New Year’s retreat with friends; a purposeful time of reflection, contemplation, dreaming and sharing. It suggested thinking of a word that describes both your year past and what you hope for the one to come.
As I’ve done just that, I have come up with several words, not just one. The second half of 2018 got a little messy. I noticed on a few Christmas cards we received that it was messy for more than just me. I don’t know all the details of everyone’s story, but when the scripture on their Christmas card is John 16:33 where Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” I can relate with both their hard and their hope. As sweet Kathy reminded us in last week’s devotion, Jesus came for our mess. She also reminded me this past year that it’s ok for things to be hard sometimes.
The words that keep coming to mind as I remember last year are heaviness and hard. It seemed that everywhere I turned there was a very difficult situation and it was permeating our family and community. Whether it was family members who were struggling, health crisis, financial hardships, natural disasters or personal disasters, some seasons in our lives are not so easy. Although gratitude is mixed with grief, the weight of life can sometimes be heavy and hard to carry. Those still recovering from Hurricane Michael have the physical reminders of the trouble and struggles we face in this world. You may not have the obvious brokenness of uprooted trees and destruction all around you, but you may feel like a terrible storm has ravaged your life and rampaged your relationships.
It’s not pretty. We all want life to be happy, not hard and heavy. I would rather stick my head in the sand until the sun comes out again, but I can’t. The earth keeps spinning, the clock keeps ticking and life goes on, hard and heavy, as the storms sometimes linger longer than I would like. In the only feeble, imperfect, human way that I know how I keep getting up, getting dressed and doing the next thing, reminding myself of God’s faithfulness and total control of my life. Hoping for hope and grasping for faith, I sometimes struggle to surrender all of my circumstances to the Lord. In our world of next-day delivery, drive-through service and instant messaging, waiting on the Lord for deliverance is not what I do best. Healing takes time.
God is faithful and He hears the cries of our hearts, the groaning of our souls, and the sighs of our spirits. Romans 8 says that we believers groan with creation because we long for our bodies to be released from this sin and suffering, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory.
As I prepare to hang my new calendar, I do so with expectation and hope as the Lord slowly lifts my head out of the sand. I long to forget the heaviness and hard that is behind and press on toward what is ahead, looking back only to remember God’s faithful love and sustaining power through the storms of life.
Four new words come to mind as I enter 2019. Surrender, Honesty, Humility and Hope…”Shhh.”
Surrender. In order to embrace the life that God has given me, I have to surrender to His ways which are perfect and much better than my ways. Many times my fear and anxiety get out of control when things aren’t going my way and I refuse to surrender to His plans for my life.
Honesty. It’s time for me to be honest with myself and God. As a child of God I’ve often felt like I shouldn’t feel a certain way. Instead of owning my feelings I have denied them and stuffed them down until one day they always seem to explode out of control. God knows my thoughts before I even think them and my words before I say them. It’s silly of me to think that I’m hiding my true feelings from Him. Allowing God to shine His Light of truth into my heart, He can expose the lies that I have believed for way too long. It’s the truth that sets us free and learning to express my honest feelings to myself and the Lord will bring freedom from bondage.
Humility. He is God and I am not. I am not in control. He is. He is trustworthy, loving, and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. He is our Abba Father who loved us so much that He humbled himself to our humanity so that He could be with us and we could be with Him forever. This year I want to live humbly before Him, surrendered to His plan.
Hope. There is always hope! The baby in the manger that we just sang about, that generations waited for in hope has come and God’s Word tells us He is coming again.
“We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” Romans 8:23b-25
We look forward to the day when everything sad, hard and heavy comes untrue; when we join God’s creation and His children in glorious freedom from death and decay, when we will finally be free from the human trap of sin and suffering.
Shhh… Quiet your anxious heart and find rest for your soul today. Do you hear Jesus saying, “Peace, be still.”? In quietness and trust is your strength.
His servant and yours,