The first few days of 2019 found me in a cabin with my family, halfway up Lookout Mountain outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This provided the perfect backdrop to reflect on the previous twelve months. Admittedly, at first, I simply wanted to slam the door on the old year, put the past in the rearview mirror, and move full speed ahead to the future. Then it occurred to me that if God wanted me to totally forget the past, He would have created me with the capacity to do so. My mind does not have a delete button, so anything my eyes see, my ears hear, or my heart feels makes an indelible imprint on my spirit. While I don’t believe my Heavenly Father wants me to dwell on days gone by, and thus allow the enemy to bludgeon me over the head with unfounded fears, regrettable mistakes, and disappointing circumstances, He does expect me to learn from them. I am thankful for the way that God used the trials of the previous year to prepare me to move forward into the new year with the gift of wisdom that only time, experience, and reliance on our Savior can bring.
The mountains, with their awe inspiring majesty, tend to lend some perspective to life. This was especially true as I spent time with loved ones at the dawn of the new year. Peering across the valley through the barren trees, I was struck by how the days we spent together were sort of a metaphor for the previous year. The wind, rain, and fog prevented me from seeing clearly all that was on the other side, but I knew beauty was present even when I couldn’t perceive it in the moment. As the storms moved out on our final night, we awoke to a breathtaking sunrise. God had gloriously cleared away the clouds so we could see His stunning artistry that was there all along. I thought about how life is like that. We are often so distracted by the storms that fill our days, that we forget that our God is ultimately Lord over it all. Sometimes He miraculously moves the mountains out of our way. Other times He patiently leads us by the hand out of the valley and up the rugged terrain to the summit above. In His timing, He clears away the clouds and reveals His gifts of grace in our lives.
We spent our rain-filled days at the cabin playing board games, working puzzles, eating way too much food, and even venturing out when the weather permitted. Our last night together was especially sweet as we sang choruses and songs of praise to God. Among them was the timeless hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness. I thought about how these familiar words also told the story of our family. The steadfast faith of those who passed on to heaven this year flowed through our lives, pointed us to our Heavenly Father, and lead us to where we are today. Yes, we have experienced hardship through the sting of death and painful personal crises, but God is still faithful and good. As the chorus says, “Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” He truly has provided all we have needed in the midst of our trials.
God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” What a blessing to know that this life is not all there is! As humans, we measure life in days, weeks, months, and years, but there is so much more. Our Father comforts us with the reality that the loved ones we miss here on earth are currently experiencing the “absolutely incomparable weight of glory.” I don’t know what your “momentary light afflictions” have been, but be assured without a minute’s hesitation that God has beautiful things in store on the other side for those who trust in Him.
I haven’t really set any resolutions for what I want to do this year. Rather, I have set goals for who I want to be in order to honor God’s faithfulness to me. I want to be a diligent student of God’s Word in order to rightly apply it to my life. I plan to stay accountable by using space in this blog to share what God is teaching me along the way. I want to be a faithful prayer warrior who can be trusted to lighten the load for others by laying their burdens at the throne of our merciful Father. Finally, I want to be one who demonstrates kindness, grace, and mercy toward others, recognizing that we are all fellow strugglers fighting our own personal battles and in need of the light of the gospel. Will I fail at these goals? I’m absolutely positive that I will fall short more frequently than I would like, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. I pray that God will honor the journey as I cling to Him for strength that only He can provide, whether on the mountaintop or in the valley. Through it all, I’ll look forward to waking up to His new mercies every morning.