Sunday, January 3, 2016

Expectant Joy

Happy New Year, friends! Anyone else out there still finding themselves writing 2015? It's okay. We'll get it...eventually. Maybe by 2017? ;)

A new year - a fresh canvas with endless possibilities.

Last year's canvas is a bit painful to look at. Yes, there are colorful splashes of exciting adventures, new seasons, and great blessings, but there's also more brush strokes of brokenness, confusion, and disappointment than I've seen in previous years.

At the beginning of 2015, I believed the Lord was leading me to focus on the word "trust" for the upcoming year. It makes me smile to think of it. He brought that up in far more ways than I could ever have imagined - or would have wanted to.

In the past few weeks, as I'd been pondering a new year and what it might hold, there was a sense of apprehension and fear. The Lord had allowed much of my beliefs to be upended in 2015. I thought He was working in a specific way, only to find out He was doing the opposite. A saying that a dear friend framed and gave to me as a gift, sums up what He was teaching me: "And if not, He is still good."

And He is good, friends. So good. Looking back at that dark time, I'm amazed at the patience and love He showed me, as I struggled through doubts and confusion and anger at His will.

He's brought me through, but it wasn't until I began to think about 2016 that I realized there were still some lies rooted in the deep, dark corners of my heart. Where was this fear and apprehension coming from? Why was I seemingly preparing myself for another year of pain and unanswered prayers? Why was I so negative about the future?

Even though I still believed that God is good and He causes all things to work together for my good and His glory, there was a little lie that said, "God might give good gifts to the rest of His children, but not to you. His good for you is pain and suffering." So as a result, I was expecting the worst.

Friends, that's a miserable way to live! It is definitely NOT walking in the hope and life of Christ! And what is hope but the confident expectation and assurance of God? Yes, sometimes His good comes in the form of a "no". It's what I've been calling His devastating grace.

But hope is based, not in what I am or am not getting from God, but in who He is and the unchanging nature of His character. And because of that, I can expect good from God in chaos, I can be confident that He's still working good in the shattered pieces.

Because His name is Faithful and True.

Because He is NOT cruel to His children. Ever.

Because He is a dearer Daddy than my mind can comprehend.

My word/phrase for this year is expectant joy. Purposeful, hope-filled, moment-by-moment joy and delight in Who He is and all that He's doing. Not seeking to rush ahead to when ____ happens, but living in grateful contentment right here, right now. Rejoicing because in His presence is fullness of joy, not a situation or a person or a specific season.

One definition of expectant is watchful, with bated breath. That's how I want to approach 2016. I have so much to learn in this area, so far to grow, but I pray that He would make me like the psalmist who said, "Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul." (Psalm 66:16) That as I go through this year, with all its uncertainties and questions, I would watch for the testimonies of grace and excitedly declare, "Look! There He is again! Look at what He's done! Isn't He good?"

In the pain. In the triumph. When He gives and when He takes away. Through the desert and through the mountains. When I can see the next mile ahead of me and when I can barely make out the next step.

I'm excited for 2016, friends, incredibly excited! I know the One who's promised to lead me by the hand every step of the way. Let's watch for His goodness together!

So, what about you? What has the Lord been laying on your heart for 2016? I would love to hear about it!

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