Last New Year's Eve all five members of my family sat down and wrote out a letter to the Lord- a list of our hopes and prayers, of our goals for 2011. Tomorrow sometime we will open them and see if and how things were answered. I suppose in a way we could use it to evaluate whether or not we consider 2011 to have been a successful year.
Honestly, I have forgotten a lot of the things I wrote in my letter. I do remember three goals. I wanted to lose 75 lbs, the term "epic failure" doesn't begin to express how bad I dropped the ball on that one. Another goal was to journal to the Lord every day. I didn't make it. I started out strong, but it didn't last, but I did fill two journals full of prayers and conversations, and am into my third. It's not a failure, it's just not the success I was hoping for. My third goal was to read through my entire Bible this year. I'm very excited about the fact that that goal will be accomplished by tomorrow evening. I've never done it before, but this year I will have (in Jesus' name.) One thing I didn't dare to hope I also accomplished, I wrote my first book in 2011. It's not much more than a stack of papers right now, but the potential for God's purpose is there. I know He was with me in the process.
Last New Year's Eve at a church service I was given a Bible verse, just as I was practically every year for almost two decades. It was Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. And I'm going to be honest, I wasn't thrilled, the only one I liked less was when I got Psalm 23:4 a few years before (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...) But as always, even with Psalm 23:4, I saw the Lord was in fact speaking into the year ahead.
My reaction was eyes rolling and a heavy sigh of "not again!" My family laughed that once again I got one of THOSE scriptures. I was focused on the afflictions when the Lord was all about the deliverance, but I just could not know. I tried to rebuke the verse, but it was just a couple weeks into the New Year when Victoria came home with a Bible card she'd earned at school. She was reading it to me from the back seat of the van on the way home. "And the Bible verse is Psalm 34:19, Mommy, do you know it?" she asked. I told her I did, and I asked her if I could keep the card.
My prayer for the year of 2011 was a prayer for "jubilee." I was praying for freedom from financial debt, but the Lord answered it in His own way- truly a better way, that I could not have foreseen. I'll keep praying for freedom from financial debt, but I am grateful for better kinds of freedom, like freedom to hope again.
I lost my voice over the Christmas season this year. Funny thing about induced silence, it makes you a better listener. I was disappointed not to be able to sing Christmas carols with my church family. As I stood silently though, the Lord reminded me how often I get distracted by the sound of my own voice. I lose its purpose, giving honor to the Lord, when I become too consumed with how I sound. It's not just true in signing in church, it's true in life. I need to beware of becoming so consumed with "appearances" that I lose track of what the heart is supposed to be behind them. God was able to move my heart when I couldn't move my lips. It's a fact I am continuing to ponder.
This picture represents the best parts of 2011 for me (not counting people.)
My mom bought me the "Unlocking the Bible" series and my Kindle for Christmas 2010. I used the reading plan in the back of "Unlocking" and read through the books as they corresponded and it was life changing. My Kindle became a constant companion, and as a formerly avid reader, the e-reader re-Kindle-d my passion. I read probably two dozen books (after the prior year of not finishing two) and two of them I would consider life-changing: Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chloe and A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards (read that one in just the last two days.)
The 100 Verse Challenge was birthed our of the 100 Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart, we started it in September and I've memorized 30 verses already - awesome. I had the privilege of facilitating not one, but two bible studies this year. Who could foresee the irony of "Becoming a Woman of Freedom"? And the transtion represented in "Duty of Delight" has been an ongoing theme this year for me. The women I shared these studies with have established themselves firmly in my heart.
My journals represent a year of finally fully striving after the right thing in my life, a closer walk with the Lord. My new church, and particularly the "Hole in the Gospel" series we went through has has an impact on my life I could never have foreseen. And my Max Lucado Bible has been a gift, and my best companion in 2011.
This New Year's Eve I won't be pulling a card with a scripture like I have all these years before. So I asked the Lord to show me what the scripture was for me to hold to. After I asked I opeened my Bible to check out what reading was coming up in my plan, and the book of Habakkuk stood out to me. The next morning at church my pastor shared a verse from it.
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
When I asked the Lord for my scripture, I prayed He would help me be sure. I have been asking Him questions of "when?" and "how long?" all throughout this year. Some He has answered, some I stillwait and wonder. When my pastor read this verse the next morning, he read it, and he said, emphatically, "wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it..." I knew the Lord was helping me be sure. And just to confirm it, a mom at Victoria's birthday party brought it up again later that day. I feel confident this is the verse I am to hold to in 2012.
I am waiting with hope and expectation, confident not in the answer, but in the One who answers. Because I have learned in 2011, even if it isn't the answer I might imgine, the Lord's way is alwas the best.
For the first time in a very long time, I can say with all honesty that I feel like I am in a very different place spiritually than I was a year ago. And in all honesty, that makes 2011 an absolute success. I look forward to what 2012 will bring.