Paul and I are at home, keeping New Year's Eve in customary quiet! Come midnight we will both probably be in bed.
But I can't let this evening pass without reflecting on a year almost done. Incidentally, I just noticed that as 2011 comes to an end, there are 2011 blog posts exactly on Whatever He Says (written since June 2006 by yours truly and friends.) I think that's a cool coincidence. Thank you to all who read here, and for sending encouraging and thought provoking comments or emails now and again--you have no idea how much that means.
I started this year spiritually by giving up the battle to live out my faith by trying harder. Inspired by the writings of Watchman Nee, Oswald Chambers and Andrew Murray, and conversations with our friend Jamie, I realized that the only effort I need to make is to choose surrender and submission to God's agenda daily. I relaxed into the awareness that Jesus did everything to atone for past sin and that his life in me is holiness in the present. I haven't lived out that revelation perfectly, but I believe it and rest in it. This is a scripture passage that I reflected on often throughout this past year--and it is one on which I will continue to meditate as a guide to life:
2 Peter 1:3-8
New International Version (NIV)
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will never forget approaching the city of Jerusalem for the first time, or actually being on the Sea of Galilee, or standing at the Western Wall of the temple in Jerusalem and pressing my heart up against the cool, ancient stones, my hands spread on either side up against the wall, while little boys sang a song of praise in Hebrew from the side where the men were praying.
I came home changed forever.
At work during the first three months of the year I underwent a humbling revelation and leadership transformation. God used the leadership example of Dick Winters who inspired the T.V. mini-series Band of Brothers and whose book, Beyond the Band of Brothers I read and was so inspired by. I learned this year to "lead from the front," when things get difficult. He cared for his troops by being with them in battle and caring for their physical needs and he despised the officers who retired to the comfort of their quarters of relative luxury while the enlisted men suffered hunger and cold in the trenches. I did a lot of repenting and apologizing for past mistakes as I realized them. I know that I became a better leader.
In June I went through a loss of confidence that anything I was writing mattered. I went to Write! Canada, an annual writers conference, feeling like an imposter being there! I asked my dear friend and fellow blogger Janet Sketchley who is the prayer team lead for The Word Guild, to pray, and she did, faithfully. God answered with affirmation that there is value in just simply writing about life and faith in honesty, simplicity and humour--and in the final moments of the conference I was the winner of free registration to next year's conference. Since then I also won a gift certificate for $50 from the Word Guild for being the name drawn after completing a post conference survey. It was as though God wrote, "You are a writer," with two exclamation points (and you know my weakness for those.)
Towards the end of the year I struggled with a painful personal situation and battled against responding to hurt, with judgement. It's amazing how the enemy gets a double whammy all too often that way.
It was a struggle I didn't choose to talk about out of respect for others, but there was comfort in the words I found on a plaque:
Hang it On the Cross
If you have a secret sorrow,a burden or a loss,An aching need for healing...Hang it on The CrossFor Christ has borne our brokennessand dearly paid the costTo turn our trials to triumph...Hanging on The Cross
I did hang it all on the cross and God was faithful in answering prayer.
Dear readers and friends, what adventures and lessons this next year holds remains to be seen but I love sharing the journey with you!
My prayers go out for each of you that God blesses you and those near and dear to you in the year ahead!