‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ Matthew 6:21
It’s the first day, of a new year. I have never been one for new year’s resolutions. I’m more of a ‘grow as you go’ sort of person. Constant renewal and the consistent grind stands the test of time more successfully, I always think.
But isn’t it strange to think that a whole year of unknowns lies ahead?? What will this year bring? What blessings? What challenges? What changes? A host of unknown possibilities. But one certainty is that God never changes! He is a constant now and he will be a constant when we’re ringing in 2019, having walked through the highlights, lowlights and everything in between that will come in 2018.
Someone said to me recently, “I think this year has been the year you’ve grown the most- you’re a completely different person if you think about it”. I’ve been reflecting and journaling a little on the milestones and things that have happened this year, so that I don’t forget them in years to come. There are the general life changes. This year I moved jobs, moved cities, moved back in with family, joined a new church, lost friends, made friends. The ‘usual’ life happenings.
But if I really think about what made it a year of massive growth, it’s been due to a conscious decision to stop ‘serving two gods’. It’s just not possible and causes untold pain. I decided that my faith comes above everything. Absolutely everything. That decision was painful as it meant I had to make a lot of losses and also regrettably hurt people in the process. People who didn’t understand or didn’t share the same views.
I started this year completely broken. That will come as a surprise to most people who know me or were around me at that time, because it’s amazing how one can hide their lowest points while the world keeps spinning in blissful ignorance. Never take for granted that someone is doing ok… I always try to remember that quote that goes something like, “Be kind, you never know what someone is going through”.
I was filled with internal conflict. I didn’t feel God’s love at all; in fact all I felt was anger, resentment and despair against a God who was asking me to give up someone who made a massive impact on my life, who understood me like no-one else did, who accepted all of me, who loved my flaws- the annoying, self-conscious, quirky, goofy, ugly parts of me, just as much as the better parts, who respected me and was proud of every accomplishment no matter how tiny, who supported everything I did, who saw me completely for me, someone who only wanted the best for me. I felt anger at a God who was ‘making my life difficult’. I was realising that if I were to carry on practicing my faith authentically, I was going to have to make a lot of difficult changes and life upheavals.
I was a christian, but there were parts of my life that weren’t so christian. I knew in areas that my life conflicted massively with my faith and what God asks of me as His daughter. I knew my relationship with God was becoming more and more damaged for a variety of reasons; I knew I couldn’t go on with the pain of trying to serve two gods. So I started this year, making the decision to serve my Abba, and my Abba alone. Despite Him feeling a million miles away. Despite not feeling His presence or love. And despite feeling completely broken.
Since then… Wow.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, God began a process of renewal and loved me back towards completion. He revealed himself to me in a deeper way than ever before, through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Here’s a little testimony to describe just one of these times:
He sent me a love letter. ❤
At the start of 2017 when I wanted to give up on my faith entirely, my mother stayed very calm, loved me through it all, and advised me to keep praying that God would reveal to me how much He loves me. As I was really struggling to accept that a God who could ask me to give up all these things truly loved me (I know… selfish and childish of me, but that’s how I felt). I was really angry with God and what he was asking of me, particularly when I didn’t even feel He really cared for me that much. I listened to my mother and this was my prayer for 2-3 months. All the while I focused on trying to read my Bible more and just fellowship a lot more, worshiping and praising God for all the blessings I had, as she had also advised.
Then one day I was cleaning up my kitchen whilst listening and singing along to worship music. I suddenly got a very clear image in my head of a father holding his daughter in his arms with pure love. I immediately knew God was telling me that was how He sees me, and ran to switch on my laptop and scour through google images to try to find an image the exact same so I could print it out and stick it somewhere as a reminder. I couldn’t find anything that could fit what I was seeing in my mind.
Cut to a few weeks later when I was at a friend’s house, catching up. As we chatted I was nibbling on some delicious cacao balls and she went to get me the recipe. When she got her recipe book, there was a postcard of a painting she had stuck to the front of her recipe book and she asked me did I know the painting. I had never seen it in real life before.
But, it was the image I had seen so clearly in my head those weeks back. I’d say she was quite alarmed when I started crying at the sight of it! It was a surprise love letter from God. She went upstairs to get me another postcard copy to take home with me and it now stands on my shelf to always remind me of my Abba’s love for me. He was answering my prayer and showing me palpably- this is how much I love you. I only want what is best for you.
The image was ‘The Prodigal Daughter’ (1998) by Charlie Mackesy. The words around the image read, ‘This is the story of the prodigal daughter- It should really be called the running Father who waited every day for his girl to come home- the daughter who had rejected him so badly- but when he saw her from a long way off he ran to her and hugged her and kissed her’.
This year has seen me find ‘my tribe’ after years and years of praying and searching. That’s not something I will give up easily. It has seen me elevate God in my life so that rather than simply having a relationship with God, I am pursuing that with a depth I have never done before. I have grown in confidence of what my identity in Christ is. I can let go of things easier and have an understanding of people and situations to a level I didn’t before. I can stand firm in my faith and in who I choose to be even though that has cost me common standing with different peers.
I choose to be different and to live as Christ intended me to live as opposed to how the world feels I should live.
I choose to accept the sacrifices I have to make for this to be the case, knowing that my true reward is in my salvation. I choose to follow God’s leading for my life and continue to listen to His voice to guide my steps as opposed to making ‘savvy’ moves to get what I want- regardless of how ‘naive’ it looks to people watching my steps with a worldly perspective. I choose to have my own voice. I choose to be transparent and authentic with both the highs and the lows in life.
God has showered me with continued blessings this year. He has blessed me with friendships that are quite literally ‘God-given’; there is no other way to describe it. He continues to provide healing and strength and is working a miracle in challenges our family faces. He continues to carry me through and I am so grateful for that.
My prayer for this year is that He continues to carry me through, as I know He will. That I will continue to know get to know Him at an even greater depth. That He will use me to bless and encourage others. My ongoing prayer is that He will bless me with gifts of wisdom, discernment, insight, knowledge and understanding. That His peace that surpasses all understanding will be my foundation throughout the highlights, lowlights, and everything in between in 2018. And that He will use me as a vessel to show others His love.
‘The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand’. Psalm 37:23-24
Thanks to everyone who has read this blog and said/sent messages of encouragement and kindness. It’s been a new venture for me towards the end of 2017 and I’m enjoying the process.
Lots of love,
Happy New Year!