I’ve just been sitting here scrolling through my Facebook feed and I am quite amazed at how many people have had a bad year… actually – it seems the word to use is more accurately – appalling.
I’ve had a few friends express the same thing to me lately too – 2018 has been simply horrible – and truthfully – it hasn’t been my best year either.
I can tell you that there have been things I have faced that has caused me to question my abilities, my character, my faith journey (but thankfully not my faith) my self worth and my calling. I have experienced times of anxiety, inadequacy and fear in a way that I have never felt before.
I will say that much of this has been because God is teaching me things… mostly that He will not relent until He has all of me! All my heart; all my heartache; all my dreams; all my anxiety; all my skill; all my weaknesses; all of every part of who He has created me to be! It doesn’t mean I have liked it, but I have certainly been very aware of Gods presence with me and His hand leading me.
In fact, He has made it abundantly clear to me that He is right there with me. Each time I have been faced with a challenge, there has been something somewhere else in our world where we have clearly seen God’s hand of provision or incredible grace. In some of my darkest moments, He showed us such kindness and generosity. I have needed that – because there’re times this past year that I would have questioned and second-guessed all sorts of decisions if it hadn’t been for God’s clear hand at work in our family.
Hebrews 12:1-3 has become something of a mantra to me. It says this:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
This is such a key passage!
Fixing our eyes on Jesus
It amazes me that I can speak this and encourage others with it and even pray it for myself and yet I can so easily forget to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus!
I am still learning how to live my life with my eyes lifted. Oh, but how I know the benefit when I do! When I can look to Jesus, despite my circumstances, the perspective of things changes. I begin to see things through a different lens and can stand firmer and stronger because of the strength of Christ in me.
To some of you reading this you may think it a little odd, the idea of looking to someone you can’t actually see. But God has given us some beautiful ways to do just that!
The word! Immerse yourself in the word of God – the Bible. It is so full of the grace and love and gift of Jesus Christ. It instructs us in His ways while it transforms us from the inside out. You could spend years reading through its pages and still not know all it is to teach us.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12 NIV
Prayer – what a gift! All relationships require two way communication to be healthy and functional. Prayer is Gods gift to us to help us communicate with him. Prayer changes everything. It has a power that we cannot even fathom!
Worship – Oh how my heart bursts with joy when I can lift my eyes to the one who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine! Worship – whether it be singing, praying, painting, dancing, celebrating, reflecting, writing, or so many other things – has been defined as simply giving God his breath back (Louie Giglio). When we praise God; celebrating all of who He is and what He has done for us; giving all honour and all glory to Him; we not only point others to Him but we remind ourselves of Who He is and what He can do.
2018 may have been a complete shambles. But the best thing is this:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV
Tomorrow is not only a new day – but it marks the beginning of a new year. It has not been marked or defined yet. It is fresh – a clean slate. Who knows what incredible things are ahead but I certainly know that as I step into 2019 I will be doing my best to keep my eyes ever fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and finisher of my faith!!!!