It’s December: the end of the year. The holidays are in full swing and this season is full of fun and chaos. But with the New Year just around the corner, it’s also a good time to reflect on the last twelve months. To recall what God has done in and for you. For those you love. What has He blessed you with? Maybe, taken from you?
2012 has been a strange, sad year for me. In many ways, I can’t even begin to describe it. My relationship with God has been vital and strained, constant and nonexistent, depending on where in the spectrum of any given day I happened to be this past year. I have begged to God and ignored Him. Pushed Him aside and pleaded that He comes near. In many ways, it is much like the years I didn’t endure such enormous heartache and change. And yet, the heartache and change did lead me to new understandings of His mercy. I have had to learn to accept, even embrace the idea of God as my husband. I have had to turn my will over to Him with abandon and trust like I never have been called to do before.
My most pertinent struggle has been with this trust: trusting that God has plans for me—plans for good and not to harm me. I think that my biggest fear is that I may end up alone. But I am not alone and when I look over the past year, I see evidence of God’s presence throughout. He is much more constant than I at times, in the moment can see. It’s interesting to note how often I feel alone, only to look back and see that He was there all along.
For as much as was taken from me this year, I must recognize that much was given. God never left me empty handed. He simply replaced one thing for another. We, too easily, possess ideas that God’s gifts are tangible. If he removes something in the material, we desire that He replace it in the material. But I don’t think God works that way. I think that God values the intangible over the substance we see as ‘real’. God’s true heart for us is that we grow spiritually, that we come to know Him that we learn to love. Often, these desires which God has for us manifest in loss and then gain. We may find strength, hope, wisdom, compassion, all far more valuable to God than bigger houses, nicer cars, and new husbands.
A friend pointed out recently to me that for as much as she argued with God when she was in the midst of her own heartache, begging Him to change the situation, when she looks back today, she finds that what God gave her instead far outweighed what may have been her gain had He simply given her what she asked for. I see this in my own life, this past year especially. I have been asked to release what I thought I knew, what I thought promised me security and joy. Releasing reluctantly as I did, God still was faithful to give. Daily in this journey, He has taught me that He is my truly safe place, He can more than provide, He is in love with me in a way that exceeds all human love. These gifts I’ve slowly been working on first recognizing and then receiving.
Looking back on your own year, where have you been asked to release? Can you find evidence of God calling you to receive in unexpected ways?