2014 has been a hard year; there's no denying it. Looking back at previous years would be enjoyable, predictable, and perhaps a little nostalgic. I like to look back and reminisce. I appreciate seeing how God has shaped me through various hardships and experiences. Taking a typical "look back" at the year, across the years, has provided ample opportunity for such. However, this year has held more of the "Hardship" and "Experiences" than I, or probably anyone else, expected. Looking back proves to be sometimes difficult. The memories are not all happy ones... But how could anyone have known what was to come?
So my siblings and I will be entering this year without our sweet Mom. She was such a large part of our household; it's difficult and strange. It's such a bitter truth. but one that many face everyday. It's not particular to I or my family, it just feels that way as we go through it.
Of course, I'm not writing about this to make you feel sad or discouraged. The sin nature is ever-present and death is just a harsh truth we will have to face throughout our lives. Yeah its tough, but it's reality. I'm writing about this because I would like to take another look back. I want you to see God and what He has done and can do in the lives of His children. When you look at something, the "first glance" is often perverted. The first conclusion is often flawed. Sometimes, it requires a double take to see things as they really are...
So here are some things I have noticed as we go through this. As Anton Ego from Ratatouille would say, "A little perspective"...
First, it has definitely drawn me closer to God. A relationship with God is something that must be maintained. You have to work at it. I'm thankful for the hard times because it has forced me to realize, once again, how needy and incapable I am in my own strength. It reminded me just how much I needed to trust in my Savior, no matter what.
I've also noticed the body of Christ moving in an amazing way. When we needed help, they came around us and supported us. Our church family was quick to see a need and fill it. When we weren't around our immediate church family, other friends and brothers and sisters in Christ picked up where our church could not. They were there for us. Praise God for His body at work. This was what provided such a source of encouragement and comfort. It was a beautiful thing to see.
There were also things God was teaching us through others. Our family had to be able to accept the help so willingly given us. It's a funny thing. To need help but somehow still feel like we could pull things on our own. For me, my first inclination was to show that I was okay and could get through things without burdening others. However, when I accepted the help of the friends around me, it helped me realize how much I needed it. People wanted to help and needed the opportunity. It would be prideful to say I didn't need it and refuse simply because I didn't want to put the load on someone else. And again, regarding the Body of Christ at work, seeing that probably did more to encourage and uplift than anything else could.
So here's the last bit of perspective I'd like to shed on this past year: Through the hardship, joy-filled times, laughter, and sorrow, God has shown His glory through it all. It's my constant prayer; "Lord, may Your name be glorified." I've had many people tell me this past year that watching our family has encouraged them, strengthened their faith, and brought them closer to Christ. I've seen renewed relationships, people putting differences aside for the collective purpose of helping us out. I've seen the hand of God on our family and in turn, touching others for the better. In no way do I credit this to us! Clearly, it's God working through us and despite us, and for that I thank and praise Him continually. Our God is an awesome God! I can only pray that His hand of blessing will continue to touch our lives and the lives of those around us in the years to come.
What you have just read is only a minuscule part of the "Double take". It is just a tiny part of what I've observed through this year. It's not even an extensive list! How much more is God doing that we have yet to see? How much has He done that we won't know until later? How many lives has He worked in that we won't even see until heaven? How exciting is that?
"As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, not with the flight of impulsive thoughtfulness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future....Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him."
As you enter the year 2015, always remember that our first idea of what is going on around us is not always going to be correct. We only see a little tiny part of the big picture. If you find yourself discouraged after drawing first conclusions of a matter, stop for a double take and see if the Lord doesn't show you something different.
Happy New Year, my friends.