Since we’re headed into a New Year, I’ve been thinking about this year and honestly I’m not sure what to write.
This year was really, really good.
The past three or four years have been some of the hardest we’ve ever walked through.
Let’s back up a bit.
When I was nineteen I made a decision to follow Jesus. Since I have an all or nothing personality, I told God that I am all in. If I’m doing this, I’m doing it completely and totally. One hundred percent.
He had only one question; ‘Have you counted the cost?’
Yes! I did.
That day I started pursuing God. I knew about him but the question persisted, ‘Who is he really?’
I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was pursuing me as well.
Over the next decade, God kept asking me this same question; ‘Have you counted the cost?’
Slowly I started to realize that the cost of living for Jesus was really about laying down my life for him. It’s about surrender. It’s about letting go of other’s opinions. It’s about saying yes to the plan God has for my life despite what I lose in the process. It’s about real faith and trust in God that was birthed in the fire. It’s about living outside my comfort zone.
My answer was always yes, but as we hit different highs and lows of life, that yes became much more hesitant, because the more life I lived the more I realized that the price of following Jesus was incredibly high.
It can also be an incredibly lonely journey.
God is patient but he has shown me repeatedly that true connection means giving him more than lip service. It means actually giving him the right to access and use every part of my life, from my kids, finances, family, relationships and dreams for his glory.
He isn’t controlling. I tend to be a rule follower and I like to get things right. For this reason, I would be more than happy if he gave me a check list of things to do and then I could call it good.
That isn’t who he is though.
He wants relationship with us more than he wants our ‘Christian to do’ list perfectly checked off.
This might not be theologically correct, but I see every life trial as a battle over our lives. On one side the devil is creating spiritual warfare to convince us that we are victims and that following Jesus is too hard.
On the other side God is allowing these seasons of walking though fire because it is in the hard times that our need for him is seen so clearly. It is in the fire that we are shaped and molded into a vessel that God can use to bring Heaven to earth. It is only in the fire that faith that is alive is birthed.
Bringing this blog full circle…
The last three to four years have been a fiery season of refining beyond anything we’ve experienced before.
The crossroad we stood at was clearly marked by two completely different roads. We could turn left and submit to human expectations, people pleasing, keeping the peace etc. or we could turn right and experience backlash, slandering, lost relationships and damaged reputations.
We went right. (palm to face)
We chose right because that was the road that lined up with our personal values, the road that felt right and it was the road that God promised us if we walked it, he would be with us and he would restore everything multiplied that we lost when we choose this road.
It was a hard and lonely road.
The promise that he would restore everything was a promise we held tightly to in the hardest moments, and it’s a promise that I reminded God of often.
Moving to California was the turning point for us. We walked through our hardest season here but we simultaneously saw the goodness of God trickle into our lives in the most unexpected ways.
However, in January 2022 it seemed the floodgates of Heaven opened and the blessings of God flowed seemingly unhindered into our lives and continued through the year.
This doesn’t mean we didn’t have hard moments because we definitely did. It just means we clearly saw the shift in seasons from winter to spring.
It also doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect and will continue to be so because this too simply isn’t the truth.
If anything I know better than ever before that following Jesus comes at a high price.
However, I also know that when he allows pain in my life it is ultimately for his glory. I know that when he allows pain in my life it is actually for my own benefit, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he not only restores, but restores in excess that which was stolen from our lives.
If your season is so dark that you can no longer see the promises of God than I hope this blog offers you hope. On the cross Jesus uttered the words, ‘It is finished.‘
This promise stands today. No matter how loud the devil roars or how lonely the road you’re walking… The end of the story has already been written and Jesus already won. There are no rewrites, typos or plot twists. It is finished.
Lean on that. Lean on past victories. Lean on past God stories. Lean on his promises in the Bible and lean on the things he has promised you personally. Lean on my story and on the stories of others who walked through hard times.
Mostly though, lean on Jesus himself and know without a shadow of doubt that he is worth it and he will restore all that has been stolen.
The brightest rainbows appear at the end of the darkest storms.