It’s two days before the new year hits and I’m sitting on our air mattress bed with colored pens strewed around me, scribbling out answers to questions:
What have I been chasing?
What GOOD happened in 2016 and what did I learn?
What challenges did I experience in 2016 and what did I learn?
What is one thing I want to cultivate in the year ahead?
And the questions go on, all of them making me get honest with myself and the year we’ve walked.
I’ve been chasing being faithful with today and open to anything you ask Abba. Oh yeah, and sometimes I’ve been chasing the myth of balance and doing it all well all the time.
The good? There’s so much to jot down: Weddings and sacred family time, learning to let go of guilt, job changes and opportunities, raising souls and loving people and following Abba wherever He called us.
It’s in this pausing, this looking back before turning forward where wisdom is gleaned, where the goodness of Abba is sometimes seen most clearly. For how often do we really know whether we’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death or just a night before a glorious dawn?
The challenges of this last year…..waiting, waiting and then more waiting, letting go of some dreams to pick up others, living like gypsy nomads roaming the earth, raising of souls and loving people in close quarters…
Yeah, you’re reading that right. The challenges and the good, they start overlapping. Because in the hands of Abba, isn’t every challenge an opportunity for something good? Isn’t every challenge an opportunity for holiness-making and soul-shaping?
In sitting with all this, the pieces start to come together and what seemed random starts to take shape. Those first couple of years where the money ran dry and the work never came, yeah, that wasn’t meaningless drought. It was a season of seeds falling to the ground and dying, the seeds of dreams and expectations and well laid plans for just how God should work it all out.
Like my daddy prepping his garden each spring, there were roots to be pulled and rocks to be cleared and soil tilling that had to happen in the depths of our hearts. Those years of barren living were really years of getting the ground ready. Because you can’t plant well in rocky soil or where weeds will choke the life out. So if you want a harvest that’s going to be worth the cost, you better be willing to get a little dirty and broken.
And then, without even realizing it, new seeds were being planted. Only you don’t usually know that they’re seeds for the future harvest until they start to take root and sprout. At the time is just seems random and exciting and maybe a bit terrifying.
But nothing is wasted this side of Heaven and what we think is just random may be the tiny start of a brand new direction or a dream being realized.
Impatient me wants those seeds planted today and flowers picked tomorrow but really, what good ever grew that way? Because rushing a plant, a baby or plan gets you weakly, sick, and underdeveloped results. When we’re wanting to build a lasting Kingdom, why do we think it will be done with hasty straw and sticks?
Abba is in the business of burning away the chaff and building that which endures, both in us and through us.
Those of us joining Him in the building soon find that there are seasons when the project really starts to take shape and others when you’re just laying one brick down at a time with no clear idea of what you’re making. It’s in this pausing, this reflecting and #2017GoalSetting that I’ve maybe, just maybe, started to see some reason to the madness, a purpose for the lean and hard time.
Let’s be honest, you and me, we don’t really know how all of this is going to shape up. We think we catch a glimpse and then, like shifting shadows, it all changes and we’re back to not knowing where the path is going.
But dear friend, this one thing we can be sure of, there IS a plan and the Master Builder, Gardner and Creator never leaves anything to waste. So if you’re walking through hell, keep walking. And if you’re running through fields of sunlight, rejoice! And if you’re stuck somewhere in a fog, know that one day it will lift and the next step clear.
For us, right now, it feels like winter is thawing and we’re walking out of the shadows and into the light.
But even if the storm clouds come racing back in and the rain rages and we watch the harvest get frozen before it ever buds, this one thing we can be sure of:
He’s still good. And so we will still keep praising.
Because not every terrible year is completely sideways and even the best years have thunderclouds and storms. And Abba wastes none of it.
Bloom where you are planted, however hard or rich the season, for the harvest will come.