My 2012 calendar, in all it’s paper glory, begins to fill—birthdays, vacations, goals, fun responsibilities. There is something about holding a year’s worth of pages in my hand that makes me wistful. I wonder what the year will bring. I wonder how next December will be different than this December. I wonder what I will be doing in the coming year that is beyond what I can even imagine right now.
I realize that, as many people look back on the previous year, I rarely do. There are reasons for that unintentional behavior–years that were too difficult to want to think about ever again. But what can be a coping mechanism has become pattern.
I used to say that I could do anything for a year–that enduring something less-than-ideal for a year was do-able. Now, I see that though this may be the case, it is not wise. Not only does this perspective set me up for justifying decisions that probably should have been made differently, it also creates a false reality that there is a timetable for waiting. Though said with endurance in mind, classifying a one-year time frame as doable by default classifies any longer time frame as not doable.
God doesn’t work like that. As I reflect back on the past year, and the past decades, I see many times when God’s time table differs greatly from mine. And there are prayers, still unanswered, yet promised for which I still wait after many, many years. There are dreams that are yet unrealized. And there are others that have taken me by surprise with how quickly they came.
My habit of not reflecting back on the previous year has somehow stolen away the celebratory moments of the great things in life. Celebrate, move on, and never reflect on it again–this way of being cuts short the understanding of God’s long-term faithfulness. It is not how God works:
“And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests feet stood firm…and Joshua said to them: Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder…that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, What do these stones mean to you? Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” –Joshua 4:1-7
God memorializes great moments. They are there to remind us of His constantly-working hand. As you reflect on the year gone by, even if it was a difficult one, look for the moments where God’s hand broke through the heartache, the difficulty, the pain. For in great years and hard years, He is working. And He longs for you to remember…Him.
photo by Paul Vlint