Saturday, 05 January 2013
2012 was a difficult year, if I'm truly honest -- which I'm trying to be. While my life wasn't filled with tragedy after tragedy like a long-running Spanish soap opera, it just was difficult consistently. I had no real break from the stress and trials, no rest from life's hardness, no reprieve from fighting sin and vices. It was one long battle that has now bled into the new year and isn't showing signs of stopping. If anything, it's about to pick up the pace, whether I'm ready or not. I can only buckle my seat belt and pray for the best.
But is that really the best option?
Last year's difficulties began to arise from a simple resolution. Through the encouragement of a blog I follow religiously, I "adopted" a word for the year of 2012. This word was to define how I wanted to live, act, and move for the entire year. This word would be constantly in my mind and would constantly motivate all I did. I loved the idea, finding it a better option than a New Years' Resolution -- those barely make it out of January alive. I figured a word would be easy and simple to keep. Oh, what little I knew.
My word was "Surrender". An odd word maybe, but the perfect word for me. I'm a control freak -- planner, in every sense of the phrase. I literally plan for everything. "Hm, let's see, I have all the food I need for dinner, including an extra few servings in case someone spills their plate. I have four extra glasses in case someone breaks their own. And the first person to be here will be Kurt, so if I die, he'll be the first one to find my body. I better not lock any room I'm in just in case I die too quickly. Hm, anything else I'm missing?"
Yes, I literally plan for everything. You can call it a sickness; I call it being prepared.
But for 2012, I wanted to change my freakiness. Since this habit often spilled over into my personal and spiritual life, I wanted to reign it in so God could do what He wanted in my life. I decided to surrender to whatever God asked. I prayed it over, talked about it with BT who loved the idea, and began praying for the first way to show my surrender to God.
The first week was great! Surrender felt awesome! No pain, no issues -- only good things happening!
Then, things got real. I was denied my internship at my church. I had a serious allergic reaction to a new medication. I changed to a different medication that still messed me up a little. I was working 40 hours a week with no pay at my church waiting for them to reconsider me as an intern. I finally became an intern but only begrudgingly by some of the pastors. I gave up doing any concerts all together. I turned down my dream job of being a college professor. My family started tearing itself apart over my brother's divorce. I literally had no income and no place to move to during the summer. And the biggest blow -- BT left his job at my church and announced he would be moving several hours away in the near future.
What. The. Hell.
Every part of my life available was somehow rocked, broken open, and jangled up this past year. Nothing was left uncovered, nothing was left unmoved.
I was surrendering -- and this is how God was helping me? Seriously, Jesus, what the crap? What about all that "All things for good", and "Great plans for you", and "I will bless you" stuff? Where is it? What happened to it? Did You pull a fast one on me? Did you get Your laughs out?
I was becoming weary of my walk with God. It seemed it was only painful. No real joy or blessing. Just trial and suffering, refining and discipline. I was spent. Empty. DONE.
And then, last night...
My Bible study group watched John Piper speak at Passion 2013 in Atlanta last night through live stream. His message was on suffering, but not the normal kind of message. The first 15 minutes was a beautiful recitation and teaching on Revelation 5. Piper described the glory of God and the worthiness of Jesus to be praised for all eternity. Piper discussed the reward that awaits God's children and the beauty of the heavens that will be our home. It brought tears to my eyes to hear his words and see the Bible so wonderfully lay it all out for me!
Then he moved onto suffering. And he quoted three short passages, all from Hebrews. The gist: everyone, from Moses to the early Christians to Jesus Himself, have embraced suffering because they ALL focused on their reward in heaven. They sought that prize, the presence of God, the unending Love of the Saviour, the riches of heavens -- they sought it by embracing the suffering God placed in their lives! They didn't endure; they grabbed hold of their suffering, and held it close, knowing through it they would see their Father.
I sat there, taking it all in. And suddenly, 2012 didn't seem so bad. My life didn't seem so bad. Why? Because I have something incredible waiting for me up in heaven that will trump the fire out anything I could ever experience on this earth, good or bad! NOTHING can compare to Jesus! No suffering, no blessing -- everything pales before the glory of my Lord and Saviour! Surrendering to Him? It's only logical.
So for 2013, I have a new word. I had already prayed about it before hearing Piper, but after hearing him, I'm even more committed to it. My word is "Believe".
I believe that there is freedom in Christ.
I believe that there is joy in my suffering.
I believe that God can and will heal me of all my afflictions.
I believe that great things will come out of my darkest hours.
I believe that heaven is worth all the tragedies I could ever endure.
I believe that Jesus has something absolutely incredible stored up for me.
I believe that there is a plan for me that is greater than any plan created by any man ever.
And I believe that Jesus is more excited about my life than I am.
This year, 2013, I will believe in all these things... Because I believe in Jesus.
To a New Year, everyone! I love you all, and look forward to what's ahead!
Did you have a difficult 2012? What was it about 2012 that made it so challenging? What is your "one word" for 2013?