2014 has been a difficult year for me. It seems each year is difficult if you think only on the hard days behind, but for me, as I look back, I find it to have been more difficult than years in the past. It might simply be my view at the moment, but I can't remember a year like this one. I will be glad when it is over and a new year begins.
I reflect on failures that I still struggle with in my life. After knowing the Lord for 50 years you would think I would have overcome these weaknesses by now, but sadly I still struggle, still flounder with failures I have never overcome. I know I have grown, have matured, but if I am honest I wonder when, if ever, I will overcome some of my fallenness. I fully understand Paul's words in Romans 7 and rejoice in his words in Romans 8.
I reflect on choices I have made in the last year. Some good, some sadly still woven to my fears and anxieties. Choices are always affected by who we are, who we have become and it's a work of God that gradually moves us to choices made because of what God has said and not tied to our fears and anxieties. I grieve over choices, many made over and over again, but I rejoice that God directs my path in spite of my foolishness.
I reflect on my "dark days", days of depression and despair when nothing was really wrong in the world I live in. Dark days don't let you see that the sun still shines and so despair and depression overwhelm. Psalm 23 gives joy for the days in the valley, in the shadow days. Even as the dark days come and stay far too long I rejoice that God is with me. He walks with me....if only I will reach out for his hand.
I reflect on missed opportunities and choices that can't be undone. It seems that some of them are life and death issues but honestly even those choices, those opportunities find redemption in the work of God. I rejoice that a good God oversees my finish even as I stumble on the course I run. Hebrews tells me to run with my eyes on Jesus. I'm so thankful he ran well and finished victorious so I can run with my eyes on him. I will, one day, celebrate victory because of him...in spite of my choices, my stumbling and failed opportunities.
And, finally, I reflect on wonderful friends, glorious loved ones who have encouraged me, prayed for me and continue to do so. It is those arms that hold me up and keep me going. It is those prayers that help me endure my dark days. It's the company of the saints, as we move to eternity together, that help those who are weak, care for those who struggle and pray for those who wander. It's the love of Christ in our midst that makes the journey a joy instead of an ordeal. I rejoice in the body of Christ and the love of God that comes from each one I encounter.
Another year ends. In the scope of eternity it's really nothing, but in my short life it is an opportunity to once more reflect, repent and reconnect with the God who loves me.
Last thoughts on the year behind? How wonderful is the love and grace of God! He takes even my feeble attempts at walking with him and brings glory to his name, victory to my life.
How wonderful is the love and grace of God! It makes each trial, each day, each sorrow an opportunity to trust him, walk with him and see him turn my failures into his glorious victories!*
*(If it seems I'm being a bit too honest, too transparent, I make no apologies. It's a transparency badly needed in the Christian world...a transparency that admits we are all still a work in progress....still people under construction, becoming like the one who saved us. Heb. 10:14, 1 John 3:1-2)