As the year end approaches I continually entreated to The Lord about not feeling "done" with this year's word He gave me at the beginning. My husband and mother and eldest daughter and closest girl-friend all said the same: "I feel I've barely scratched the surface of this."
I wonder, though, if any of us should ever feel "done"? I wonder, actually, if not feeling ready to move on to the next One Word Resolution for the coming year is actually what makes us ready? I wonder if it may have been our verbal confession that we weren't "done" that opened the door out of readiness to receive the next word from Him. Ann Voscamp talks so much about what prepares us is realizing our inability to prepare ourselves - how that shows our humility and dependence upon Him.
FAITH. Faith has been my One Word for 2014, and I wrote about it at the beginning here. And these were the verses God gave me, the ones I've hung my hat and heart on this year:
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -Hebrews 11:1
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." -Romans 5:5
At the beginning I was where I've always been: afraid to hope. Afraid to believe. Afraid to extend faith. AND BE DISAPPOINTED.
I have lived believing such a horrid, horrid lie, that The Lord Himself was the one choosing to not disappoint me because I wasn't enough of who He wants me to be and that truly deep, deep down, questioning His daddy-love for me. That's a fully loaded history of hopelessness.
I didn't know what the heck to expect when He gave me this word and these verses. But I anticipated growth at least in some fashion from where I was at.
This has been a year of the Holy Spirit undoing the lies. Uprooting the earth in the garden of my very soul. Some like pulling out splinters that were close to the surface, some like they had been infected for a long time, and some like surgically removing steel beams impaling my heart.
This has been a year of searching hard after The Lord. The ache that comes along with the gasp for air in suffering that prones our hearts to wander, to search, to find answers and understanding that satisfies.
We are met with cliches of certainty about God's will and "at least it wasn't worse," as if our very souls aren't hollowed out with a dull blade during a season that leads us to seek His heart HARD to understand where in the world He has been in all of it.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
- Jeremiah 29:13
When we wander in search for God, and we begin to realize nothing satisfies that longing for "why" in us except to just be, resting, sitting, soaking in His presence, we very slowly begin to realize two vital truths:
(1) That through it all, whether an earthly answer is gratified, HE is my answer.
(2) He loves me.
I'm His precious girl. He aches when I ache and He cries out when I'm torn in two. Not because He didn't see it coming, nor because He doesn't already have a plan in play for redemption, for good, for hope. No, He just loves me. He. Just. Loves. Me. Tight and hard and the most fully "love you ta' pieces" anyone could ever, because He sees my ugly. And is STILL waiting there in our Secret Place for me. Always simultaneously seeing me right where I'm at AND His original design in me, with the complete work of Christ in me the Hope of Glory as the very perfectly stroked oil painting backdrop to my entire being and life here on earth, this temporary place.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines… yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
-Habakkuk 3:17-18, ESV
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
And there it is. Eucharisteo. The triune word again that cannot be simply understood, but felt in the very fibers of who we are. Eucharisteo. Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.
And the hard eucharisteo?
"Thanksgiving doesn't devour your sorrow, but it acknowledges the Glory that will." -she reads truth
Yes. This. Because the deepest, most full and restoring praise I've ever felt has been in suffering.
"God doesn’t ask us to silence our sorrow in favor of thanksgiving. Rather, He uses our sorrow to proclaim a type of thanksgiving we wouldn’t be able to express otherwise." -shereadstruth
It can seem irrational and impossible. It is a sacred act of obedience. Easy in moments when it doesn't hurt, and blind obedience in the times of ache.
The hard eucharisteo.
And I've always been a bit of an all or nothing girl at heart, frustrated by a grey world and my grey actions to fit into it tied up with a neat little grey bow of pretending.
Radical Gratitude takes the sting out. It is a sacred transaction where peace and joy beyond circumstance is tenderly deposited in our very depths as our perspective shifts in the light of His presence alone.
"Isn't it our suffering that initially led us to The Lord? It is suffering that CONTINUALLY drives us to Him. And THAT is the gift in it."
And THAT is the gift in it, indeed. Lack of peace makes me wander and seek in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. The hand of God ALWAYS leads us home to His heart. Always. And in it the gift to see more of who He is in every area of our lives.
The result of radical gratitude is a more radical faith. Faith that says EVEN IF the worst happens, I am SURE you did not do it TO me, Lord, and I am SURE you will ache with me and carry me through because You are faithful, and the gifted result WILL be greater intimacy with You.
Come. What. Freakin'. May. <--- I'm not editing that word out, friends. Ache is ugly. Let's not belittle that. Rejoicing in spite of circumstance does not equal pretending crap didn't happen and wasn't the ugliest you've felt. It's just that: the "in spite. " The AND YET. -- "And yet I WILL rejoice in the God of my salvation." Hallelujah!
I have barely scratched the surface and yet... I. Am. Changed.
Will you be joining me, sweet friends, in seeking The Lord for a One Word Resolution for 2015? Tell me about your 2014 word and how it has changed you. I'm so looking forward to hearing it. :)