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Looking Back and Moving Forward

I wonder how many of you subscribe to the romantic notion of a New Year being a fresh start, a clean slate, a blank page and the likes. Normally January 1st is like any other day to me and I really don’t get the drama that surrounds it all. But today is different. I’m so glad that 2013 is over and that a new year lies ahead of us. 2013 was a difficult year and that’s just putting it *mildly*.

How was this past year for you?

As human beings – we dream, we make plans and we do all that we can to pursue those plans. But things turn difficult when some of those plans don’t come to pass and it’s excruciating when everything feels like it’s moving in the opposite trajectory of what you had hoped for.

2013 was difficult for so many reasons. It was difficult on me as a person with individual dreams and aspirations. It was difficult for us as a family. It was difficult to come to terms with the tragic loss of a student and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse it was difficult to stand beside the earthly remains of my 23 year old cousin on the last day of 2013. So yes, it’s been a difficult year and I’m glad it’s over.

I’ve experienced a wide gamut of emotions in this time. Fear. Anger. Depression. Sadness. Worry. I’ve questioned God through it all and while some believe that to be a sin, I don’t think it’s wrong for us to ask God why He’s allowed things to happen to us the way they did. I’m sure God doesn’t want us to pretend or be dishonest when we come to Him–and in any case, He already knows what is in our minds and hearts.

But the reason I’m writing all this down today is not to vent or complain. Neither is this post one of those mandatory ‘2013 in review’ blogs posts you’ll see all over the internet. You see while 2013 *was* a difficult year, it was a year that only strengthened my love for and belief in my maker.

Whenever we face out-of-control situations, we tend to go to one of two extremes. Some of us, the more out-of-control life gets, the harder we try to control it. Some do the exact opposite: They simply give up! But 2013 has taught me that every day, you have to decide who’s going to be in control of your life — you or God and that choice is a battle. But I’ve learned that when you let go and just trust God things work themselves out. When loved ones die, you’ve got to believe that there’s a greater plan unfolding and that His plans are way above ours.

I’m not saying that when we’re in a bad situation or grieving the loss of a loved one that we should simply suck it up and move on. Absolutely not. Our emotions help us come to terms with our experiences. Job in the Old Testament didn’t understand why God was testing him and questioned why God had let it happen.But Job didn’t wallow in depression. Instead, he honestly sought God and, in time, God reached down and brought comfort to him. No, all his questions weren’t answered–nor will yours ever be. But Job saw God’s greatness and love in a new way–and that made all the difference.

I don’t know what 2014 will bring with it. I don’t know how many mountain top or valley experiences my family, loved ones and I are going to have this coming year. But I firmly believe that there is always a higher calling: a divine plan that is playing out. Sure there are times when I question it. I don’t see the full picture. I wonder what’s going on up there. I ask for direction. I question my maker. I ponder over the decisions I have made and hope and pray they were the right ones. And then suddenly in a quiet moment, after I’ve vented, after I’ve wrestled with God over how futile I think it all is, I’m reminded that I my steps are guided by a power I cannot comprehend. I’m reminded that there’s someone up there with a plan for me that my mortal mind cannot begin to fathom. I realise that I’ve always been the centre of his plan. That everything happens only because He has willed it to. He knows all. He sees all. He plans all.

In those quiet moments, I breathe again. I sit there in the silence. My thoughts stop racing. There is a calm assurance that everything, every single thing is as it should be.

I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for. – Jeremiah 29:11

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