It is with a sense of great relief that I closed the last page of my 2018 planner and look ahead to clean pages filled with hope and expectancy. To be sure God gave me many many wonderful days, events, and moments in the last twelve months. Using a single summarizing adjective, casting the whole as bleak, would be a mistake.
“Fresh starts and new beginnings,” to quote my friend Paul David Tripp, are God’s specialty. It’s the hope we all feel at the start of new beginnings, new possibilities ahead in a new year. The longer I walk with God, the greater my hope and the greater my admiration and wonder at His ability to rescue and redeem and restore beyond what I could ever imagine.
So, as we start this new year I’m excited to share with you what I’ve been learning in the hard days, the seasons of trial and the dark places of my life. In the valleys God has kindly given me new glimpses into Who He is. And I love Him more than ever.
Another friend and author of one of the best books I’ve ever read, A Grace Disguised, wrote this:
Gifts of grace come to us all.
But we must be ready to see and willing to receive those gifts.
It will require a kind of sacrifice,
the sacrifice of believing that,
however painful our losses, life can still be good—
good in a different way than before,
but nevertheless good.*
That you may anticipate with me the good God has ahead for all of us, here are several topics I am excited to be writing about in the coming year.
1. Though I have written about the Holy Spirit previously I am more convinced than ever that we cannot do life without Him. I’ve learned more this year about speaking to Him, hearing His voice, and seeing Him lead and I’m excited to share those stories with you. Learning about the Holy Spirit is serious theology but liberating for everyone who desires to learn. Jesus said, “Seek, and you will find,” (Matthew 7:7).
2. As I mentioned above loss was a big part of 2018 for me. I too easily forget that it is also a normal part of life every day and every year. So, I want to write more on what I’ve learned about living with loss and finding our way through the darkness that descends when we find ourselves in hard places or hard relationships. Most importantly I want to encourage you to ask Jesus to reveal Himself when you find yourself unexpectedly, because most loss arrives with surprise, in those seemingly unlikely places for discovering His Presence.
3. One truth that has been an anchor for me since 2008 and for Ever Thine Home since it’s early days is the verse, “And He shall be the stability of your times,” (Isaiah 33:6). Another favorite is the verse, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;” (Psalm 28:7). Both of these verses are printed on two of our perennially favorite products, a constant reminder to me in my home, and hopefully yours too, that Jesus never changes. I created these for me, and they are displayed in my home year round, because I need visual reminders of His truth. I hope they help you too.
4. As I journeyed through the trials of this past year I began writing my thoughts, feelings and questions about God to God Himself. Inspired by David’s raw honesty in the book of Psalms, which I read through twice this past year, I have written prayers out of my experiences. I’ll be sharing those often this year, inviting you to be not just more honest with God but to look hard at what you believe about Him. So often our assumptions about Him are completely false or only partially true.
5. What do you know about your soul? If you are like me not much. It’s a nebulous concept but spoken about often in the psalms and other places in Scripture. I do not possess the intelligence to plumb the depths of this mystery. I am not a seminary trained theologian. But I have been reading the Bible asking God to teach me about this part of who He made me to be and He’s been faithfully giving me wisdom and understanding. I hope to write about these discoveries and adventures this year too.
6. Last is a topic I have been fascinated with all my life. In the last few years I’ve started reading and thinking about the topic of beauty. Most of us women think about it a lot, mostly in relation to how we look or how other women look. The comparison trap is real. But like all other realities in this amazing world God made, beauty is far deeper and more profound in meaning than any of us realize. So stay tuned for some conversations on beauty!
This list isn’t all I will write about. The Spirit is my master so He may lead in another direction and I will follow. But for today this is what He has been saying to me, whispering in my soul, giving me eyes to see.
With anticipation I look forward to this next year. Only He knows what tomorrow may bring. Oh, and never forget this woven ribbon of truth in every one of our days ahead: this could be the year of His return! His promised return and how we are to live in light of this promise will be another topic I will keep before us this year.
As we stand together only two days into the new year, remember, He will come again. If not this year, then soon.
Will you be found eagerly waiting? Will you grow in anticipation with me this year? And more than anything I want to see Jesus in 2019; more clearly and more often. It is my sight that needs healing from the dullness of living in this broken world. Give me eyes to see You, Lord.
“Come quickly, Lord Jesus,” (Revelation 22:20).
*A Grace Disguised, Jerry Sittser, page 68.
**Maranatha is Aramaic, the language of much of the New Testament, and it means, Come quickly, Lord Jesus.