That was my word for 2019. As I blogged about it way back in the first week of January, I said I’d keep an eye out for how God’s promise would play out in my life this year.
Confession: I really didn’t.
In fact, I didn’t even remember that it was my word of the year. I had to look it up on the blog to remind myself a few weeks ago, and I felt quite the mental slap to realize I had a word so, well, promising and didn’t cling to it.
But as I reviewed the post, the scriptures I’d included in it, the thoughts I’d had at the time…it’s okay that I forgot. In fact, it totally fits with the whole purpose of the word as it was given to me. Because the thing that struck me then and which struck me anew as I read my words from a year ago is this:
It’s when we think God has forgotten His promise to us that He’s fulfilling it.
It’s been a difficult year. I finished up the last books of the 6-due-in-18-months schedule I’d been on, and I was seriously exhausted by the end of it. (Hence why I spent three weeks in November frantically rewriting the last of those books, which certainly told the tale of exhaustion, LOL.) My daughter began high school, which in homeschooling world means a bit more intensity for me in terms of grade-and-record-keeping. And my husband is changing careers, which comes with some stress…okay, a lot of stress.
But with the PROMISE of Joy. Something I need to remember now. And cling to.
Something I need to examine. I sent my blog post from Jan 1 to my husband a few weeks ago, and he asked, “But what exactly IS the promise God has given us?”
He never promises us smooth sailing. He never promises us career success. He never promises us fame or acclaim or anything the world deems “good.” So what is at the heart of His promise?
I will never leave you or forsake you.
Through you all the nations of the world will be blessed.
Seek first the kingdom of God and the rest will be added.
His presence is, ultimately, our promise. Things will go wrong–but He’ll be there. If we keep our focus on Him, nothing else will matter–and we’ll spread the good news of him to everyone else.
A week before Christmas, my family started reading a book together morning and night called Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (there’s a free app for smart phones too that has the exact same stuff in it!). It takes the traditional prayers of the church, both Catholic and Protestant, and combines them into one volume meant to connect us with other Christians around the world and throughout history; to be approachable to different denominations and backgrounds and help us seek unity with one another through our shared roots. The authors explain in the introduction that these sorts of prayers can be used to hide in…but they can also be used to teach us about the form of prayer and to be a wonderful jumping-off place for our more personal ones. There’s a place in each session where you pause to pray for what’s on your list and praise God for what He’s done.
Each morning prayer ends with this, which I think is a beautiful benediction for us all as we close out a year and prepare for a new one:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
We never know where He’ll send us. The wildernesses we may go through. The storms that will come. We don’t know what the new year will bring. But we DO know that He’s there. In the whirlwind and in the whisper. We know that He does the miraculous every day, and that we ought to be looking for it, ought to be filled with wonder at the mystery that is our God. We know that when our eyes remain fixed on him, there is always Joy to be found. Always something to rejoice over.
We know that Christ is the ultimate promise fulfilled.