While I grabbed the ornaments out of our pantry, I couldn’t believe that Christmastime was already here. Already here! But I didn’t feel disappointment. While this year couldn’t have possibly gone more crazy or wild, it was life. And it was full. And it was covered everywhere by God.
Full of God not because I earnestly sought Him, but because I was forced to fall flat on my face and recognize Him. My heart was grossly independent and full of pride. With my face in the dirt during springtime, I found God as my Rest. I had to grow again…in little green sprouts. I had to let go of all my self-constructed walls and battle plans, and fall into the shadow of God’s wings.
And bright summer broke through with dark days. But dark days that couldn’t last, because the God of hope and life and LIGHT was finally being recognized and clung to.
My heart found the Resting place.
So while the tree went up and the Christmas music played, I didn’t feel disappointment. I wasn’t staring at the floor and wishing for a different year. I was full of joy. A Thanksgiving behind me, the seasons’s end before me, and life all around me.
I am no spiritual giant…in any way. I spent most of this year flat on my face. I went months with only scattered moments in my Bible. My relationship with God took a huge beating. There came a time when I just said, “I’m tired of living sad.” I finally prayed that I would enjoy life again.
How I came to these places is unimportant, but God’s healing in these places is the miracle. That’s the wonder. That’s what I want to share. That’s what makes 2017 the birthplace of hope.
And how fitting to end this year with the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the very definition of Hope. The very reason I can even bear life on earth. While my friend struggles with very real heartbreak this season, and my sister walks through something unimaginable, and my far-away friend strives to stay faithful in a long, difficult road….I am reminded that we have God. And in God we have all.
Hanging the ornaments on our tree was a bit of a celebration for me. The first-year ornaments, primarily made of 4x6x photos, reminded me of the rich life I have lived. I realized just how much life has tripled for our third Christmas married. While I am busy trying to subtract the hard things of life, I forget all that has been added to it.
I approach the end of the season suddenly so ready to celebrate all that God has done this year. My heart cries out to God, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;” (Job 42:5). And I am in awe! I have drawn intimately near to God this year, and I have so much to celebrate.
In 2015, the name of God I held so closely to me was El Roi…the God who sees. A year spent face-flat in the dirt has my heart clinging to El Deah…the God of all knowledge. I have begun to pray El Deah, taking so much comfort in the reality that God knows every last piece of me, the battles, the victories, the losses, the triumphs, the very cracks of my breathing, growing heart.
I can’t believe it’s here..the edge of 2017. I can’t believe how God has loved me even when I was angry. I can’t believe how He answered my prayers and gave me the light-hearted joy of living again. I can’t believe His gentleness toward me even when I couldn’t sing the hymns. I can’t believe His loving-kindness toward me even when I didn’t have the desire to open the Bible….even when I questioned His character.
I can’t believe the little buds of green life He grew from the hopeless offering of my heart. I can’t believe He took that war-torn offering and made it grace, made it new, made it whole. I can’t believe how much He loves me.
BUT HE DOES.
And I do believe Him. And I am amazed by Him.
It turns out that a year face-flat on the ground can actually be one of the best years of your life. It turns out that your heart can be bursting with joy even if it’s a shadow of what you thought…or a broken piece of your “whole”.
And this joy?
That’s God restoring your world…making your world Him alone. Maybe this year really has been the best of your life. Isn’t nearness to God the best good life could ever offer?
We have God, and in God we have all.