Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!...
My faith journey has largely been marked by radical obedience and what I can only describe as supernatural faith (for I know it doesn't entirely come from me). But for a portion of 2015, it seemed every prayer bounced off the ceiling, God felt distant and as a result I allowed a bitter seed to take root. While bitterness promises to console, it never actually satisfies. Wallowing in this state, I sat across from a fellow Jesus lover who is marked by a similar faith to my own. I not-so-humbly confessed "I'm not supposed to struggle in this way, wrestling with these feelings of indifference and doubt, I'm supposed to be on fire for the Lord, willing to walk through any trial."
I guess I somehow thought myself immune to humanity. I assure you, I. Am. Not.
I've heard plenty of testimonies where people have walked away from their faith due to hard circumstances, unanswered prayers, healing that never came...devastating loss. Having danced with doubt, I understand the reversal. In bolder times I actually prayed to give God "permission" to use whatever circumstances He needed in my life to bring the most people to Christ. This may seem like a noble pray from the mountain top but let me tell you, it is a devastating reality from the valley; suddenly backpedaling, "anything but this." Nevertheless, the valley continues to be my most sacred training ground, the place where the Lord shows me more of His faithfulness and the depth of His goodness, if only I can muster the strength to trust in His promises. It is here I find the courage to pray that prayer...again.
Trials included, I realize I've lived a rather favorable life and most days I look around at the blessings He has given me, in awe of His provision, protection and forgiveness. But we all have our battles, our heartaches, our unspoken or unanswered prayers - desires we carry in the hidden depths of our hearts. And in each of those places, we find fertile ground for pain; pain if left unchecked can easily sprout into bitterness. Instead...what if we trust Him and allow Him to till up our soil and sow a new thing?
In 2016, I'm choosing to believe the Lord can deliver us from those hard places (even if his delivery looks different from how we've imagined) I trust He is doing a New Thing. He who made a path through the mighty waters shall make streams in the wasteland. I wonder...will you meet me here - in this place of trust, forgetting the former, laying down our expectations, and freeing us up to receive the new.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4