Happy New Year?

My goal every New Year’s Eve is to be in bed by 11:00pm.  That is like a WHOLE HOUR past my normal bed time.  I don’t get too jazzed up over most of the holidays, New Year being one of them.  Plus I am obsessed with sleep.

But reflection and vision, I could do that all day!

So, it is time to reflect on 2015 and pray for and receive vision for 2016.

Like any teacher I geek out over a good old fashioned T-Chart.  In my reflection over the last 365 days I am tempted to create such a chart.  “THE GOOD” in one column, “THE BAD” in the other, and then determine from there, depending on which column has more, whether 2015 sucked or not.

good bad

But as I was thinking back over my year, try as I might, I couldn’t quite separate the events, emotions, struggles, and blessings in such a neat and visually pleasing manner.  And more surprisingly, I didn’t want to.  I felt God urging me to see a fuller picture, to take away a greater and far better remembrance from 2015 than simply what went well, and what didn’t.  And I was led to Philippians chapter 4.

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 

I have received things I never imagined I would be given, and had things taken away that I thought were off limits.  I had beautiful answers, but am left with heart-wrenching questions.  I felt supported and I felt alone.  I succeeded and I failed.  I rejoiced over new seasons in life, and grieved over unforeseen challenges.  I made both good choices and bad.  I spent less time on the internet and also nearly threw my computer in rage over said internet a few times.  I was a good wife and a crappy wife.  I was a patient mom and a yelling mom.

I stumbled upon joy in a great struggle, and was hit with struggle in a great joy.  The good mixed with the bad in many layers and hues. 

Perhaps what happened, or what didn’t happen, in 2015 isn’t as much the point as I am tempted to believe. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Often when I read this verse, I focus on the words CAN or ALL THINGS or STRENGTHENS or ME, and my life ends up looking a bit like a T-Chart.

But in the center of this verse is Christ.  Jesus Christ.  All other words revolve around Him.  aa

All events, circumstances, emotions, obstacles, failures, successes, seasons, and even all doubts, fears and questions are just that.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I can divide them up into the GOOD and the BAD.  I can hope for more or less of them for the New Year.  I can slide my finger over to the delete key and forget the bad and give thanks for the good.  I can glare at the GOOD column, wishing it were bigger, resolving that 2016 will be better, greater, happier, healthier skinnier, and more organized!

But that would just be a two-dimensional chart on a page.  Words and events.  Circumstances and seasons.  ALL and I and THINGS and CAN.

What God gave me in 2015, and what I expect he will give me in 2016, is Christ.  Christ in the hard.  Christ in the good.  Irresistible Jesus.

In the darkest of the year, when I couldn’t handle what was going on in my life or my heart, when theology and people and words and ideas were not soothing to the soul, there was Jesus waiting, washing, crying, seeing.  Oh how I love himHe is good and kind and gentle and worth-giving and worth following. 

In the brightest of the year, when I was full and satisfied and confident there was Jesus, leading me on, clapping for me, empowering me and teaching me.  He is good and kind and gentle and worth-giving and worth following.

May what sticks with me be that yeah sure, I had GOOD and I had BAD, but in all these I had Christ.

May my 2016, and yours too, be yeah sure, there will be GOOD and there will be BAD, but in all these we will have Christ.

Eugene Peterson phrases Paul’s words nicely

Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Happy New Year, let’s all go to bed early!

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