So I have been spending some time in self examination and prayer as 2016 closed. Praying to the one true God of the bible, and asking Him to show me my sin, my own heart and what it needs to be more like His and to give me the strength to do what He asks of me. In that I’ve also been reflecting on the last year of life.
I have come to the conclusion that it might have very well been the most blessed year my family has ever had. God has undoubtedly been blessing us way beyond what I could have ever asked for for many years now, but this year was different. God saw fit to take us to a new level of sight, a new level of trust and and incredible place of love.
It all started with a radical bible study that taught us some new principles that God desires for us to live by. The Lord began teaching us that anger is a terrible sin that will tear down the heart more than we could ever know. All new lessons are a process so I never assume one time of victory is the same as conquering the sin…but we began the path of conquest.
Next, came a radical study on finances. And boy did it change our physical life. We learned that we needed to make some drastic changes in our business. We learned that there were several problems. We learned principles we had never gleaned from God’s precious word before. And in our business they were being broken. So my husband who had been so good at submitting to many new things and to owning his part in them, began the process to obedience.
We had no idea what it would look like financially or where we would be left standing after it was all over. We only knew God was revealing to us a command and He is always more trustworthy than our sight, so in our desire to please Him we jumped!
Because of a large difference in beliefs systems, making these changes and choosing to please God instead of man offended a handful of men that began an attack on us that would feel unfair, brutal, scandalous, and painful. And would create ripples of hurt that would last for months. It also cost us a great deal financially. We lost some of our land, 1/2 of our pay, a good bit of savings, the security of a future retirement fund and we questioned if we could stay in our home. We had to make changes for our children and what they could participate in, what we could participate in and how we lived daily. We spent a lot of time as a family talking, crying, truly communicating, and reassuring each other that what God brought us to, He would also walk us through. It honestly became a new freedom, a new closeness and miracle marker for us.
As each wave of change came we would dive deeper in our faith and love for each other. My children have experienced so much more from having to “give up” and sacrifice for the family. I learned that I trusted in money too much and was taken to a greater level of faith in God’s love for me. My husband hit a place in his walk with the Lord that was inspiring to watch. I saw the blessing of meekness in him. I saw him become an animated version of many of the beatitudes. Now I’m not saying these lessons came easily, nor am I saying we have fully and consistently obeyed them all, remember I’m looking back now. But I do have to say even at the time, even when there was so much uncertainty I knew God was taking us to really, really good place. I knew that God was breaking through a layer in our hearts that had to be BROKEN and then repaired by His precious, perfect hand. And I was right.
In the expanse of a year, God peeled the layers of unknown sin, taught principles of blessings, imparted just the right amount of pain to draw our hearts closer to Him, and shed a lot of things that needed to be shed. I can say that so many passages of the bible came to life in our lives! So many truths were proven! So much confidence was gained in the Lord! If you’ve never seen God move in your family you are missing out…it is worth whatever it might cost. Pray for it, pray that God would take whatever is taking you away from Him, no matter the cost. There is nothing in this world worth holding on to if it is in any way distracting you from God, and only God can make the perfect cuts.
I look back on so many things that just as Joesph said to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen 50:20) And I think, ‘I know exactly what Joseph was feeling.” God is sovereign. God is good. Joseph suffered some things that really looked horrible. And he didn’t have the hindsight on his life that we do, so he had to choose to stay the course with God or focus on the circumstances. He chose to stay on God’s team, under His control and he won. God’s promises come to pass and Joseph was made whole…which was so much more important than becoming 2nd in command of Egypt. Yet he got both.
At the time, when things that look to our eyes out of control or as if we are losing, we need to assess whose team we are truly in our hearts playing for, and if it’s really God’s team…it’s never out of His control and we never lose. Seeing our own shortcomings is hard, being disciplined is hard, and letting God allow painful things to cleanse us of things we have picked up in this dirty, filthy world is hard…but I’d choose it every time because the blessing of being made whole by the sweet hand of my loving God is more valuable to me than words can describe. Pain and loss is fleeting but eternal treasure is, well, eternal.
I look around now and I see that we are still a work in progress, we still screw up, we don’t obey or trust God as we should. That grieves me as it did the apostle Paul. But we are a year farther, a year more whole and a year more blessed. And I wouldn’t trade this last year for anything!
God is not through with us. I have no idea what is to come, but as the Proverbs 31 woman does I “smile at the future” because we are choosing God. And He is working all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I still pray (while my children gasp) for God to take ANYTHING we are holding onto in place of Him, but I pray it more freely than I used to, because I’ve walked with Him there. And I saw Him love me, defend me and lift me to a better place.
I pray you know my God and I pray you know these blessings.
Happy New Year!!