2010 was a tough year for us. We experienced loss and disappointment and stress to a degree that we had not yet known. Sure, there have been plenty of wonderfully joyful moments. I’m not trying to paint an overly dark picture for a year that had plenty of bursts of vibrant color and light. However, suffice it to say that we happily ushered out 2010 last night (as I fell asleep reading at 8:30pm, thankyouverymuch) and are grateful for a fresh start in 2011.
You know, though, it’s funny how we learn and grow. Matt and I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the past year together, and we are overwhelmed with the work God has been doing in our lives and our hearts over the past twelve months. I, for one, have had several simple but hugely significant truths hammered into my hard head over and over again.
- God is good, and His plans for me are good.
- God is sovereign.
- God is my constant. His love and purpose never change.
- God is omnipotent. He is in control. I am not.
There’s an old school worship song that we used to sing about refining fire. The tune made it seem like a feel-good, heart-warming song, and until recently, I never gave a second thought to it. It goes…
“Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord”
But now that I’m thinking about it, I want to shout, “Are you freakin kidding me? You’re asking to go through a refining fire? You nutcase.” Really, think about it. Fire is used to heat up gold and silver and remove impurities. The process is hot and messy and, well, firey. Fire hurts. But the result is pure, beautiful metal.
I feel like we experienced some of this in 2010. God has been using trials to refine us. And the result? A continued work in progress. Certainly not pure and beautiful, for I will never know how that feels this side of Heaven. However, true to God’s faithfulness and good intentions for us, both Matt and I have seen fruit from this fire.
In the Old Testament, we see the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years until they reached the promised land. At one point, they started whining to Moses and were all, “Why did you have to take us away from being slaves to Pharaoh? Sure, we were in captivity there, but at least we had food to eat and somewhere to sleep! Enough of you and God, Moses, we’re peacin’ out of here and going back into slavery!”
You see, this has been my attitude all too often. I’ll say things like, “Matt, why in the heck are you in seminary and working at a church when you had a very well-paying job at a firm with a lucrative corporate ladder back home? Take me back there. Forget this desert mess.”
Our pastor recently preached a sermon to this tune about not wasting our desert. It smacked me around a little because that’s exactly where Matt and I find ourselves in this period of uncertainty and unknowns. However, rather than scrambling to backpedal away from this place in which we find ourselves, my goal for 2011 is to make good use of the desert. Because I trust that God will never lead us somewhere that does not ultimately bring Him glory. And isn’t that what our lives are all about anyway?
Happy 2011, everyone!