Time Flies. At least that has been my experience this year. I felt like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year, jotting down my yearly ambitions and praying that 2015 would be my best year yet!
Then I blinked, and now I find myself writing to you in December. I look back on my New Year’s cheer, my zealous goals and my hopeful prayers, and well, I can’t help but chuckle. Someone once said that if you want to hear God laugh, then simply tell Him your plans. I would rather do without the mild tone of cynicism that comes with that particular phrase, but I can’t deny there is some truth to it.
Let’s just say, things didn’t go exactly as planned for me. Some goals were accomplished by God’s grace and some good ole fashioned hustle; some were quickly abandoned; others were derailed by unpredictable obstacles and new areas of focus; and some goals simply no longer made sense as time went on. As for my prayers, I can confidently say all of them were answered in one way or another. Some prayers were met with a miraculous display of God’s provision and faithfulness. Others were answered with a very clear (and for my benefit) heavenly, “No.” And some prayers became a true conversation piece between me and my Creator- a divine dialogue orchestrated to purify my heart, refine my character and adjust my ambitions accordingly.
This year was a complicated friend. She was beautiful and terrifying; tender and fierce, orderly and chaotic. One moment she whispered her wisdom and the next she screamed out truth at the top of her lungs. She was both the peaceful quiet and the raging sea. She was kind. She was cruel. She was gentle. She was harsh. She was more than I could have ever bargained for when we first met on Jan 1st. My go-getter attitude and list of to-do’s was no match for her majestic madness.
And yet, if it wasn’t for her I would never have experienced grace, faith, courage, kindness, hope, and freedom the way that I did. Her personality may have been complex and rather intimidating at times, but her presence forced me to face reality and to face myself. She demanded I make some decisions about life. Like the big stuff, not where am I going to eat for dinner or should I upgrade my data plan or what should I tweet next? No the big stuff, like am I willing to actually take the bold steps of faith that I preach about so often? Am I going to embrace integrity even if it hurts? Am I going to play whatever game I need to play to get what I want or am I going to live justly and kindly? Am I humble enough to hear what I don’t want to hear and grow where I need to grow? Am I becoming a generous, gracious person or a small-minded skeptic? Am I willing to quiet my soul enough to hear the Holy Spirit and then am I willing to reorder my life to obey His leading? Am I going to settle into a comfortable pattern of existence or am I going to boldly and aggressively live the life Jesus died on the cross for me to live?
2015 was a wonderful whirlwind. She was the messiest and most magnificent and certainly most memorable year of my life. After 12 incredible months, I find myself thanking God for her from the bottom of my heart. As crazy as she was at times, she will be missed. After all, I owe a lot to her. She’s become a dear friend, replacing my timidity with a real backbone, my safe plans with wild pursuits, my conformity with convictions. And as we begin to exchange our bittersweet goodbyes, I already hear her leaving me with a promise. “I know you’ve come to appreciate me, and you are reluctant to let me go. But don’t worry, kiddo; you are going to love 2016! After all, this whole time I’ve been getting you ready to meet her. That was always part of the plan… all part of God’s perfect plan.”
I’m not sure how you feel about 2015. If she treated you anything like she treated me, then I’m sure you have a wide range of feelings towards her. She is a very complex character. Maybe you can’t wait to see her go or maybe you find yourself having a hard time saying goodbye. Whatever she has been to you, I hope you can see in her design the threading of the Divine. I hope you can look back and see God’s faithfulness and kindness and goodness in all her months and days. I hope you can see the workmanship of the Holy Spirit in her, how He guided you and comforted you and showed up for you in all the days she gave. I hope you see how every day she provided an invitation to walk with Jesus in the unforced rhythms of grace only He can provide. I hope you see that in both the highs and the lows, in all the triumphs and in all the losses, she was always giving you an opportunity to become someone completely surrendered to Jesus. Maybe she hurt you or disappointed you or frustrated you or even bored you, but she also taught you things… and beneath the surface of minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and seasons, she had buried for you treasures of wisdom and grace and love and joy and strength. I hope you find them. I hope you pray and dig with Jesus until you uncover every single one of them.
I hope at the end of your time together you don’t casually turn your back on her. I hope you kiss her goodbye. I hope you treat her with the respect and honor she has earned. But please, do say goodbye. Her time with you is coming to an end, and if you linger too long in her passing shadow you will miss all that 2016 has to offer. This new friend of yours needs your undivided attention, needs you fully present and alert and full of hope if you are going to receive all that God has in store for you. This new friend of yours has new things to teach you, new gifts to surprise you with, new adventures to experience, new obstacles to overcome, new sacrifices to give, new people and passions to embrace. And I don’t want you to miss out on any of it. So say your farewells, and steady your heart in hope. 2016 is making her way to you. God has prepared her specifically for you, and if you will welcome her with open arms, you will soon find yourself on one heavenly wild ride!