I tend to get weirdly nostalgic toward the end of a calendar year.
Maybe a better word is reflective.
I’ve spent some time this morning reflecting on the year that is ending this week. It was a good year. In many ways it was a year filled with the unexpected, at least for me. Admittedly, I didn’t embark on 2013 with a ton of expectations. It was the first year I can remember not setting any New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think I began the year expecting it to be a bad year in any sense, but at this time a year ago I was a bit numb. As 2012 was wrapping up I was right in the middle of a 4-month sleepless bender, as our new baby Amelia (born mid-October 2012) was learning how to use her vocal cords and mess her pants at midnight.
I’m a journal-er. Meaning, I tend to think and pray and process quite a lot through writing. I’ve been keeping up a prayer journal, where I pray as I write, almost like an on-going conversation with God, through a series of Word documents on my computer for about 15 years. I was looking back to this time a year ago, and I found an entry that expresses where I was in my thinking heading into 2013. I don’t know if this was the sleeplessness talking or if it was just a progression in my year-end perspective. Here is what I wrote:
I certainly come into the year (2013) with less expectation. Not in a negative way, but I think I’m learning not to lay out a year in my mind or heart when the unknowns end up defining the year anyway. That seems like a pessimistic statement, but I don’t feel like I’m being negative. I feel like I come into this year as more of a realist. “Realist” meaning, I’m surrendered to the movement of your grace and your unfolding plan in our lives, church, and vision. We surrender to you Lord, we are yours. Have your way in us this year.
I laugh as I read that paragraph. To think about what would come in 2013, the myriad of unknowns and unexpected events, people, circumstances, trials and victories; it blows my mind. Personally, we finally sold our home in Olympia and bought one here in Camas, moving houses for the 5th time in 3 years (long story…) since coming to the Vancouver area to join LifePoint in late 2010. On the church side, we had another year of amazing growth (nearly 20% in weekly attendance), highlighted by numerous salvations, baptisms, and outreaches to our community and across the world. We also had 19 staff transitions in the 12 months of 2013 as our team continued to grow and develop. We took massive strides in our understanding of the vision God has given us as a church, much of which will begin to unfold early in 2014.
As I look back on 2013, the year included so much that I could never have predicted 12 months ago. How about your life? If you could travel back 12 months to the end of 2012, how much of 2013 could you have predicted? How much completely caught you off guard? What highlights were unanticipated wins? What trials were unforeseen struggles? When you think of 2014 in this regard, how does it set with you?
I think the most comforting thing for me is the realization that God is never surprised, and he is never out of control. No matter how high or low a certain year ebbs and flows, God is sovereign, God is good, and God is faithful. At a particularly difficult point in 2013 I memorized Psalm 121. For a couple of months I quoted it several times a day, and it served as a significant plumb line on days when it was sorely needed. It reminds me of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty. I can’t encourage you enough to take a few minutes each day this week and begin 2014 by committing this to memory. I know it will serve you well, as it has me, when the unexpected comes. Let me leave you with this beautiful Song of Ascents:
A SONG OF ASCENTS.I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.