I know it’s a little late to post a reflection blog on 2018. We’re only barely into February, but I feel like 2018 is already an era behind us.
Anyway, as I thought and prayed through my goals and hopes for 2019 I also spent time reflecting on 2018, and as painful as it was to reflect back on some of the more difficult days, I cannot explain how incredibly beautiful it was.
2018 was such a difficult year.
But I can’t help but point to God as the good and faithful author of a story that I would never have wanted to play a part in unless he had written me into it.
As we were walking (or maybe I should say limping) through 2018, I found myself frustrated as I doubted God’s character time and time again.
Was he really good?
Was he faithful if he walked us through difficult seasons?
Now I can say yes. Somehow. I can believe wholeheartedly that he is good. He is faithful. He is working a beautiful redemptive story, and he is graciously weaving our story – our messed up, full-of-mistakes, roller coaster ride of a story – into the grand and beautiful story he is writing.
2018 started with a trip out to Colorado to visit the church we would eventually join.
It started with terrified whispered conversations where we dared to believe that God could somehow use us as church planters.
It started with packing boxes in Birmingham, driving too many hours through Kansas, lots of introductions, and lots of “what in the world are we doing?”s.
2018 was intermingled with joy and sorrow. Hope and devastation.
We went to funerals.
We hiked mountains.
We suffered through panic attacks.
We baptized new believers.
We worried and we cried.
We celebrated and we praised.
We wondered and we doubted.
We planned and we hoped.
And while I know that God‘s faithfulness and goodness doesn’t need to be “proven” in any way [He’s already proved his goodness by being God, by creating humanity, by sending and raising his Son, by calling me to himself and saving me. He doesn’t need to be proven as good and faithful]…
While I know God’s faithfulness is sure…if his sustaining grace and goodness to us in 2018 is any indication of his good and gracious character, then I have absolutely no reason at all to doubt that he will be good and faithful and gracious to us again.
God gave so many gifts to us in 2018.
Some gifts came in the shape of friends, jobs, ministry opportunities, and housing…
…but other gifts came in the shape of months of depression, weeks of questioning our living situation, exhausting days working too many jobs, and frequent feelings of inadequacy and loneliness…
But these growing pains, these struggles, I can now see as gifts, because they pressed us into God’s grace.
The restless nights encouraged us to remember his promised redemption.
The tears and trials pointed us to the true and greater reality – that God is glorified through us.
And more importantly, all of this served to remind us that’s it’s not actually about us (our comforts, our circumstances, our ups and downs).
Yes he cares intimately about us and about these things, but [thank goodness] his purpose is ultimately bigger than our comfort.
His plan is bigger than our hopes.
And his grace is sufficient to carry us always.