Christmas passed in a blur and I woke up suddenly to discover that the new year was upon us. I was totally unprepared: not a piece of cabbage or a black-eyed pea in the house (Jeff was totally fine with that)! 🙂 Many of my PW friends online were writing posts about their verse for the year or the theme that God had laid on their heart for the coming year. I immediately thought “I wish I could do that…too bad it’s already January 1st… maybe next year.” But then I began to think and pray and wonder…If I had planned ahead and prayed and prepared…what theme would God have wanted me to focus on this year? What theme would I say He led me towards last year? My eyes suddenly opened and I realized that God is not bound by our time frames. He is perfectly capable of leading me towards something new on January second even though I thought I had missed it on January first. I began to pray and reflect, and I noticed a theme from previous years.
2011 Theme: Faithfulness & Trust. This was a rough year. Our complainers were in full swing and our supporters were dropping like flies. Our church was experiencing no growth whatsoever. Everything we tried was met with opposition. Even our “friends” and leaders in the church began criticizing and undermining even our smallest of efforts. In the midst of the frustration and discouragement God called us to be faithful. And we were. Then the crud hit the fan. We stood up to the nay-sayers one too many times and they were moved to action. They unexpectedly called for our resignation from the church. We were floored. Then God called us to Trust. He Himself fought for us and proved Himself (once again) to be faithful. In 2011 we learned what it meant to be faithful no matter what because God is always faithful and absolutely can be trusted.
2012 Theme: Forgiveness & Healing. Needless to say, after our horrible experience in 2011 it was hard to continue on with ministry. However, God spent over a year gently leading us towards a place of forgiveness and healing. We began the process of forgiveness in the midst of the turmoil of 2011. We had to. Otherwise, the bitterness and anger would have consumed us. But during 2012 we learned that forgiveness is not a one-time event. We had to continually choose to forgive those who had done us wrong: those who had actively worked against us and those who had simply abandoned us in our time of need. God used us during this year to model forgiveness to our people who were left. They, too, had been hurt by the previous year’s turmoil, but were much slower to forgive. By actively forgiving those who had hurt us, we were able to prove to our people that true forgiveness is possible with God. In September 2012 I was able to go to the Leading & Loving It retreat. I had gone the year before and received so much encouragement in the midst of my pain. This year I was determined to be the one offering encouragement to others…after all, I had been through a lot and come through it all extremely well! But then we all began to talk and share our struggles and I discovered that what I thought were merely scars were actually festering wounds. I was still hurting and grieving and dealing with the pain the previous year had caused. God used some sweet ladies along with the power of His Word to show me that being hurt is not the same as being bitter…but it can lead to that. And just because I was actively trying to forgive and move forward, I could not experience true healing in my heart without being willing to let go of the pain. I looked up all the instances that the word “healing” is used in Scripture (Thank you, Biblegateway.com) Did you know that everyone who came to Jesus for healing during His time on earth was healed? Jesus never turned away anyone who asked for healing! I realized that I must not only ask God to help me forgive and move forward, but I also needed to ask Him to heal my broken heart and take away the pain. (As a side note, God sometimes does not say yes to our request for physical healing because He has a greater plan in store…see Paul in 2 Cor. 12… but this is not a theological blog so we will move on…) 🙂 I am happy to say that God has brought healing to my heart this past year. It still makes me sad when I think of what happened but the pain is being used to make me stronger and ready for what God has in store for me next…
What do you think? Have you noticed a theme for your past year? It’s not too late… what do you think God wants your theme to be in 2013?
** OK…so my husband just read this post and told me that “the crud hit the fan” in 2010. Has it really been that long? Oh, well…the point is still the same: faithfulness & trust… guess it took me 2 years to work that one out. 🙂