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I believe in pressing forward and in living in this day but once in a while it’s good to take a quick look back to see how far we’ve come and remember what we learned.  A friend of mine said today that looking toward this new year is like throwing out a fishing line, we wait and watch to see what we’ll reel in, not knowing, but hoping.  I joked that it’s probably good we can’t see all that we’re going to “reel in” this coming year and that I’m glad Jesus is there to help us if we have to pull in something really heavy or menacing.  Today I’ve been thinking some about the lessons I caught in 2010.  Some of them were whoppers:

Sometimes resting is an act of obedience. God gave us the opportunity to rest from the responsibilities of ministry and when I felt like volunteering more and getting involved more again at the beginning of the year I heard God tell me “no.”  “Just be still, Mimi, I know what you need.”  He was right.  I needed the break more than I realized.  It took the whole year for me to get to the point of being willing to go back into pastoral ministry for several reasons.  I think one reason it’s taken so long for us to find a new place of ministry is because we needed to rest, we wouldn’t have been ready any sooner.   The Lord is my Shepherd…He leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength….  Psalm 23:1-3

I have to own up to hurt and then let go. To deny I was hurting over some things that happened last year was wrong and in fact was hindering me from moving forward.  I had to own up to it, admitting I was angry, disappointed and sad.  Then I had to let it go and not dwell on it, not get lost in dreaded pity party land.  That’s definitely a dead-end.   Rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to him in prayer…  Lamentations 2:19  //   Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.  He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  Psalm 116:7-8

I learned more about trusting God and walking on even when God was silent and I couldn’t see or feel Him.  One of the harder, lonelier lessons of this past year.  When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.  Isaiah 43:1

Fear is an opportunity to trust. I’ve begun reminding myself when I start to fear something that instead I should just trust God.  I fought my way through lots of different fears this year and some were simply terrible.  If it weren’t for God I would have gone under.  When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  Psalm 56:3

God keeps His promises and He’s still my provider. He’s proven this one in undeniable ways, sometimes just in the nick of time.  If God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.  Matthew 6:30

God loves me and still wants good for me. Even though the tough times make me grow and learn, I think God still loves to see me happy and settled sometimes.  He doesn’t get pleasure out of watching me go through the tough stuff anymore than I would enjoy watching my daughters struggle.    He will take delight in you with gladness.With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

God is fully able to guide and even rescue my daughters. He loves them even more than I do and they really belong to Him.  More than before I had to just place them in His hands each morning in my prayers and trust He would care for them.  He proved Himself in this lesson, too, in ways no one could deny were beyond “people power” and life change happened.  This was probably the biggest, most wonderful blessing of the year.  If all the other stuff had to happen so my girl could find her way out of addiction and hurt and back to Jesus than it was so worth it.  [God says] Have I lost my power to rescue and save?  Isaiah 50:2   //  If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  Luke 15:4-5

I put my hope in God and not my wishes, plans or desired outcomes. It’s okay to admit to Him, though, that I still have those hopes, wishes and desired outcomes sometimes.  Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.  Psalm 37:4-5

Even though my usually optimistic, looking at the bright side nature was strained to the limits in 2010, my faith is stronger than ever.   I’m actually ready and eager to look forward now.  God’s Word is still true, He still loves, He still has good plans and is always working out those plans.  I have a loving, hard-working, faithful husband and three beautiful daughters filled with promise.   God gave us a loving church family to nestle into during this transitional time of our lives.   I have the best job I’ve ever had and loads of great friends.  I could go on and on.

Why don’t you join me on the pier of this new year?  The sun’s coming up out there on the horizon, the sky stretching wide in a beautiful pastel canvas as if to remind us of the wide open possibilities ahead.  We can cast our lines out together and then sit near Jesus and talk.  While the sunlight warms our faces we’ll wait for our first catch.

Lead on, O King eternal,
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where’er thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o’er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.

Ernest W. Shurtleff