What are your markers of faith from 2018? Where did God teach you something about Himself or something about you?
I’ve been thinking about those questions as I finish my first full New Year to New Year in Georgia. It’s been a big move, a start-over move, an all-things-new move. I’ve taken time to process what I’ve learned and found the lessons I need to apply as I move into a New Year. I am always caught in the tension between knowing and doing. I want this year to synchronize them better.
I can’t point to one circumstance or moment of discovery. These are lessons that simmered and are just now coming to full boil. I share them as my accountability step, giving God full permission to bring them before me again and again so that they become as much a part of me as breathing.
1. When I believe that God’s best trumps my best thought, goal, or idea; I let go of what I have called “best.”
The problem is how much time it takes to let go of what I think is best. My best idea pales before God’s best. I know that; I really do. But I want God to give me “brownie points” for trying hard when, in truth, I only tried my way.
Proverbs 16:1 reminds me that “We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.” (TLB) I’m tired of giving myself to plans that don’t work. I want to more quickly discern when my plan isn’t working and listen more, wait longer, and obey quickly.
2. God’s unfailing love fills my emptiest moments when I stop expecting a circumstance or relationship to fill them better.
This is where I play the if-only card. If only you understood, you would be kinder or more accepting or more of anything I need in the moment. Any if-only, self-made requirement is a weak substitute for how God wants to fill some emptiness in a season of change. It is the meaning of spiritual growth to let a new empty place become a receptacle for God to fill. As Psalm 107:9 reminds me: “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” God fills; that’s His modus operandi, His MO. I need to be less afraid of some new emptiness because it becomes a good place for God to fill.
3. God’s new reorders my life rhythms and routines to become the raw material I need to find His blessings and answers.
While new is something good and exhilarating, all-new can be daunting and overwhelming. God’s all-new requires new directions, new perspective, and new habits. Try to do the same old thing the same old way and you get exactly that—the same old. God is a patient life coach. He wants me to know that His new is the answer I am looking for. He wants me to know that whatever His new changes or removes; it is to bring something better. Waiting develops patience. Patience develops discernment. Discernment brings wisdom. Wisdom brings contentment. Nothing I do on my own takes me that far!
With these faith lessons, these Ebenezers, these stones of help; I move into 2019 more sure than ever of God’s unfailing love and life-building new. I don’t want to run ahead of either.