As hard as I try to keep the Advent season sane and sacred, just moving along at an easy pace...things always get hectic that last week before Christmas. Somehow I end up feeling exhausted and depleted, in spite of how much I thoroughly enjoy all of the Christmas traditions.
I'm so thankful that we were able to sneak away on the 26th, leaving the house as it is with decorations up and all, to head to our little bunkhouse/cabin in Plain. The pace of life there for us is slowwwww! We poke away at projects in the shop during the day, read books, watch movies, go for walks, and enjoy time with our sons and friends. Thankfully, we awoke to snow falling for our first two days so it has been beautiful here all week...cold, mostly clear skies.
I've had plenty of time to think about things I would like to accomplish in 2015 and set a few goals. As you may remember from my post a year ago, I like to think and pray about a word or theme for the year ahead...something I believe the Lord himself has impressed on my heart and mind. Are you ready? The words for 2015 for me are Fear Not!
I hate to admit this, but I struggle with fear. I'm not talking about being afraid of the dark or being afraid to walk alone or being afraid of new or strange places...I'm actually fairly brave in many of those situations. The fear that grips me is often more subtle...fear for my sons, fear about health issues, or fear about our financial future. You see, I've experienced some events in my life that felt random, out of our control. There was the major car accident on our move to Anchorage, the discovery that one of our sons walked to the beat of a different drummer, the car accident that took the life of my parents, the drastic downturn in the economy that forced us to sell our home, cabin, and other real estate properties at slash and burn prices, wiping out our "retirement nest egg," the diagnosis of cancer and death 4 months later of the woman who had been my life long mentor and friend, the roll over car accident I had driving down the mountain pass, the fall off a roof for my husband that shattered the bones in his right wrist, the optic neuritis that struck him out of the blue, and just the day to day, month to month, year to year challenges of the self-employed construction business life...and those are just the ones that came to mind off the top of my head! And though these events felt random, I know in the depth of my being that God allowed each one, even though I may not ever know why in this life.
Life is full of curve balls...and we all face our share of them in one way or another. The problem for me is that I somehow came to believe that there was kind of a formula to life. If I lived a certain way, faithful in the Word, in prayer, in worship, strove to make good choices, to be kind and loving, then God would bless all my endeavors and my life would go pretty smoothly. I'm not sure where this idea came from, because it certainly wasn't true for my parents or even for many of the people we read about in the Bible(look at Joseph, David, Daniel and yes, Job). All I know is, with each of these events that occurred in my life, I became gradually more fearful...because life as we know it can change in an second.
Did you know that there are over 365 references in the Bible that speak about fear? "Do not fear" were the words Jesus said most often. And"fear not" was almost always accompanied by. "for I am with you." That's the reason we can live without fear, because He, our God, is with us. Yet, I struggle. I memorize verses that address fear, like my life verse, Deut. 31:8,"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you, Do not fear or be dismayed." Recently I listened to a message by Tim Keller, titled "Praying Our Fears." The message was based on Psalm 3, where David is crying out to the Lord, fearful about his foes. Then David remembers, "But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, you're my glory and the lifter of my head." Dr Keller reminds us that God does not always shield us from danger but is with us in the danger; that living a life of security often becomes our own glory, not God's; and that God lifts us out of a place of fear to a place of trust. (If any of you struggle with fear, I would so encourage you to listen to Dr. Keller's message).
So, that's my biggest goal for 2015...to live in faith, not fear. I know that God can and will use the challenges I have faced and will face for good, somehow, even if I cannot see it now.
I would love to hear what some of your goals are for this new year. I love the words of Revelations 21:5, "Behold, I am making all things new!" What a promise for all of us, especially if 2014 was full of challenges and loss. Warmest wishes for a truly happy New Year to you! Gracia