24 felt like the worst year of my life in many ways.
Many ups and downs…I think I cried more while being 24 than I’d cried the previous 23 years!
But I also feel like I grew more during 24 than ever before (clearly this is not a reference to my height…haha…still repping 5’2″).
I learned what it means to give selflessly, to face fears head-on, to FEEL the emotions of my story, to let down my guard and dive in, to be hurt and disappointed, to be obedient when I’d rather not, to pay the cost of following Christ, to experience despair, to dig deep into “hesed” love, to make mistakes, to feel betrayed, to feel the letdown of failure, to feel like I’m a failure, to struggle with insecurity, to wrestle with God, to feel my hopes dashed, to question His goodness, to pray fervently for heart change, to desperately lament, to embrace brokenness and bring my broken and contrite before the Lord, to express my heart in a new song.
And I learned that all of that made me stronger and braver and better…and the process made me a little more like Jesus.
I learned to choose Christ first and foremost. I then questioned my decision because the result didn’t feel good. But let me tell you–Christ is worth it all. Seriously. I used to say that as one who had never really sacrificed anything for His sake. But now I say that as one who has experienced the pain of sacrifice and still can say: Christ is worth it.
“If I have You, I have everything. But without You, I have nothing.”
-Kari Jobe, “More Than Enough”
“And all I know is everything I have means nothing, Jesus, if You’re not my one thing…everything I need right now. All I need is You right now.”
-Hillsong, “One Thing”
24 was certainly a pruning year. God had to shake things up in my life a bit to bring up the sediment that had settled in my heart. And that sediment was ugly and embarrassing and horrifying…but that sediment was also paid for on the cross at Calvary. My sin was nailed to the cross and I BEAR IT NO MORE…praise the Lord, oh my soul! All the sediment that sneered in Christ’s face, that mocked Him, that spat on Him…all of that was in my heart and God in His goodness decided to step in and clear the sediment. It was painful and hurt like hell…but oh my, what grace He shows me. What amazing grace that looks at my selfish, doubting, fearful heart and still chooses me. Over and over again. He never stops choosing me. “There will never be a day You’re uncertain of the ones You choose.”
So 24 involved pruning and learning again how to loosen my grip. God is constantly teaching me to live my life with open hands…it’s a recurrent theme in my life. Things get scary when my open hands form a fist…trying to grip something in my hands and then raising that fist against Him when I don’t understand my circumstances. But He ever lovingly and wisely determines what goes in my hands and what stays in my hands. And He pries my hands open. So now we’re back at the open hand stage because I’ve experienced the danger of closing my hands when my knowledge is so limited compared to His.
And recently, He’s been speaking to me about the beauty of keeping my hands open…open to receive all the blessings He has…open to receive all of Him. For every “no” He firmly gives, He also has a bigger and better “yes.” And that “yes” always involves more of Him. Jesus has been giving me more of Himself, teaching me more about His character, and filling me with His Spirit…the Spirit that produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I’m learning every day to abide in Him–to remain, stay, wait.
And He satisfies. He fulfills. He endures. He sustains. He is everything to me. He gives and takes away but BLESSED be the Name of the Lord. His ways are higher, His thoughts are truer, His plan is better.
So what do I expect for 25? My verses for this year are Psalm 25 and Romans 8:25.
I expect Him to do big things. I expect Him to prove Himself faithful. I expect myself to declare Him faithful every morning and every evening. I expect that my cup will overflow. I feel strongly that God had to take me through a trial so my heart could be in a place ready to hear from Him and receive what He has planned. And as Psalm 25:10 says–“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.“
Faithful You have been and faithful You will be.
Christ is enough.
God’s grace in my life today:
I have more peace today than I have had in months. Around this time last year, there was a sense of unrest…but now I feel His peace. He delights in me, He stays faithfully by my side, He is Lord over all, He is the King with ultimate authority, He is my Good Shepherd who knows what it feels like to be a sheep like me, He is my Protector, He is my best friend, He is my everything. And the biggest grace for today is that I have hope for the future. Glorious hope. Lord, I’m ready to see you do big things this year. May “25” be for Your glory and display Your glory.