Entering a new year there are things I leave behind as well as things I carry forward. 2017 began with monumental challenges that continued with little reprise. The very fact of my current state is a testimony I attribute to my Savior, for He and He alone has taken me through these waters. Not that the land is flourishing where I walk, but the floods have receded a bit. I do not feel like I am drowning.
The words of Isaiah, chapter 40:27-31 “Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escape the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary”.
I have to say there are many days I feel like I have no strength. I don't even walk, I crawl. But over and over again I realize that just the fact that I make it into the next day, the next month, the next year, strength I may have never thought I had carried me. Strength has many disguises. Sometimes we train physically and mentally for it, but other times, when we have nothing to fight with except hope, it may be unrecognizable.
“His understanding is inscrutable”. I looked that word up. Unexplainable, impenetrable, incomprehensible, mysterious, unknowable. Those are a few synonyms. That is our God. He will never let us understand Him. He desires we keep seeking even when all appears hopeless.
What has given you strength in the past year that maybe looked different than what you would expect?
It is more often the hardships, the tragedies, the offenses that cause us to rise up and continue in what we believe. The past few years have brought all three, as I am sure it has in many lives. As fractured and lifeless they sometimes appear to leave me, God is never thrown into a state of inertia or bewilderment. He is very aware, alert and alive in all circumstances. “For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust”. Ps 103:14
When I don't know what to do I continue what I know God has instructed, even if it appears fruitless. Writing has strengthened me. I cannot write unless I am in the right position mentally. It takes resting quietly and often being alone. Even if nothing makes it onto the page, sometimes when I think I am accomplishing nothing, I know I am building strength. I spend lots of time alone, listening, waiting, praying, hoping, and often with no apparent results. It is weeks or months or yes, even years I realize, in awe, I have moved forward. So writing is one thing I will take with me into the new year, until I sense God say otherwise.
What else will I carry? As I begin to wrap up the ornaments and say goodbye once again to the celebration of Christmas, I will carry the present and presence of Christ with me. He came once and I honor His birth, but I don't tuck Him away for another year. I observe and celebrate my children's birthdays each year and I don't forget them the rest of the year. How much more the Lord.
What am I leaving behind? That is a little harder and requires more willingness and determination of will on my part. Sorting through the baggage, I see many unnecessary pieces of my life I could do without. Habits, obsessions and ignored perspectives that hinder my relationships and my own health stare me in the face. I have learned a lot about each this year. I wish to leave behind my quickness to judge others. Taking the beam out of my own eye before I help you take the speck from yours is a good way to begin, Mt 7:1-4.
And about wings of eagles and never being weary? I believe this is prophetic for Israel at that time and heaven in the future, but also for our earthly life in whatever place we find ourselves. Waiting (hoping) in the Lord does produce strength and ability in ways only the Lord can reveal. He doesn't always shine the brightest light all at once, but unfolds it as stars in the blackest of night, adjusting our eyes to see more clearly.
Are these my New Year's resolutions? No. I am not resolute about any of it. I have learned the lessons of making promises that last only a few weeks, followed by self justification and guilt for failing. These are my desires fashioned into prayers in assurance that what is necessary will be.
You may think all of this sounds a little vague, all these words wrapped in a certain unsureness. My unsureness only lies in my predicting what I will accomplish, not at all in what God will do. We are clay in the hands of the potter, being molded and fashioned into His design, not ours. My hope is in the Lord.
May each of you enter this New Year hopeful in this one thing, that your life is held in His everlasting arms.