After reflecting on this past year, I know that all of my "resolutions" weren't kept the way I was hoping or planning they would be. I didn't quite stay as disciplined in areas of my life as I was intending to be. How thankful I am for God's grace and patience with me in this area though. If there is one thing I learned through my lack of follow through, it is that I am still dearly and deeply loved. All that He requires of me is to come to Him with a pure and honest heart. Over and over again, Jesus meets me where I am.
This last year brought new experiences and opportunities that challenged me greatly. One that stands out most in my mind is the day my husband and I stood at the airport as we said good-bye to our oldest daughter and sent her off to Maui to attend YWAM. I realized that as prepared as I thought I was to let her go, I wasn't anywhere close. During this time I had really been struggling spiritually and feeling like God was so distant. Releasing Jessica that day brought me back to having sweet fellowship with my Savior. My days were spent reading Scripture and praying and once again, Jesus met me where I was.
Other challenges were put before me this year too, but I know that they truly are an opportunity for growth when I am relying on the Lord and surrendering it all to Him. As many challenges there were this last year, there were many, many joyous times too. My favorite times were the ones where they were spent with family. Whether it was vacation or sitting around the dinner table, this mother's heart is most happy when I have everyone together.
This last year we saw our children set goals, strive to meet them and in the end accomplish them. There were also disappointments along the way, but we reminded them that they have a God who is always on their side. We saw them grow spiritually through their personal victories as well as in their struggles.
Looking on the past year, I also reflect on where I was spiritually. To be honest, 2009 was a very difficult year for me. I was in that place that I had heard other believers speak of - the "desert". Certainly over the last 19 years of being a Christian, I have faced times of feeling like God wasn't near. This time was different though. I wasn't feeling His presence. I would seek but wouldn't find. I would call but there was no answer. I loved and desired Him but wasn't experiencing personally the steadfast love He offers. The pursuit of knowing Him deeply became hard, frustrating, and disappointing. Circumstances around me then began to compound the issue and I now see how that was leading me to feeling bitter and resentful.
Yesterday was a definite turning point for me spiritually though.
As I sat with a group of women beginning the bible study "Esther" by Beth Moore, I felt His presence once again. I have completed several studies by Beth Moore and have learned and grown so much because of her teaching and the discipline it requires to do the work. Most often though, it's when the study is almost completed that I am able to tie it all together and really apply or implement the truths into my life. As the video began yesterday, she said something towards the end that I desperately needed to hear.
She too, had gone through a time of spiritual dryness and darkness. Beth Moore described how she would cry out to God asking what she had done wrong now because there wasn't anything new she was doing in her life that would cause her to have the separation from God she was having. There were just the same old strongholds that she always had and she knew at this stage in her faith how do deal with them. As far as I was concerned, it might as well have been me saying those words.
Then she said something that I have repeated over and over again since leaving church yesterday. "What I am feeling is not true."
Basing my faith on my feelings is something that I struggle with frequently. I have learned ways to stand against this when this happens such as getting into the Word of God, listening to worship music, praying, or to repeat truth over and over again.
God opened my eyes yesterday though to how this was really playing out in my life. I have to confess that there has been a part of me that has allowed myself to stay stuck and let the enemy continue to remind me that this time of not feeling His presence won't come to an end, that I have done something wrong to be where I am, and that I have been guilty of making my pursuit of Him about me, not Him.
One day, God ambushed Beth Moore with His presence. In her words, it was a personal revival and if the dark and lonely place she had been in was to get her to this, it was worth it.
While I have had moments of knowing that what He was really calling me to was that deeper place with Him, it was too hard for me.
As this new year begins, I have hope. A new kind of hope and perhaps a renewed faith. I am choosing to believe, surrender, and seek Jesus above anything else. While I know that there will be difficult days ahead and this is all still part of my spiritual journey, I know what He is showing me.
Isaiah 43:18-19 kept showing up around me these last few days as well and I know that was God speaking to me. It is now my promise for the year 2010...
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell in the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."