January is a time when many are busy looking ahead to dreams, plans, goals, and expectations. The years that lay behind are passed and put away. Yet, as I stirred that soup and reflected back, it struck me how what used to be an impossibility was now my new normal. I was happy in my old normal. I wasn't looking for anything new. However, I love my new normal much more. The process of letting go of the old and embracing the new was not easy. The one constant in it all was the faithfulness of God.
I've talked a lot about the past decade and how literally everything that was normal to me a few years ago is not part of what is normal to me now. The process was hard, difficult and at times agonizing, but as I look back and reflect on those years, the one thing that shines through all the changes and the rearranges (Yes, I know that's not a word), the breaking and the shaking, the crying and the sighing, and the dying, is the faithfulness of God. I'm where I am today simply because of the faithfulness and grace of God.
Our culture has lost the art of reflection on past events. We are told to push forward, full steam ahead, get rid of the old to make room for the new, and look ahead not behind! In many instances that is good advice. It is not good to dwell on things from our past that tried to destroy us, that stole from us, or that hurt us but as I stared at that chicken swirling around and around, I realized that as lean as those years had been there had never been a day when we went without a meal. There had literally been days when I set plates, cups, and silverware on the table, prayed for a meal, and waited because there was no food in the cupboard. On those days, God never failed to send an unexpected dinner invitation, a bag of groceries dropped on our front porch, or friends stopping by to share a pot of something they made that day that "made too much" and they would never eat it all.
As I read scripture I see how meticulously Israel recorded their history so that they could purposely look back. We have the stories of deliverance from Jonah and Moses, the miracles of the prophets, the power of God's protection in Daniel, the providence of God in the story of Joseph, and the revelation of God's heart to the world through Jesus Christ. They are more than just stories to tell our children in Sunday school. They are mile markers of the faithfulness of God as He journeyed with Israel through His wonderful plan. None of those stories seemed good while they were happening but they were necessary to bring Israel into what God had promised them.
And today, as I look to an uncertain and uncharted future, I have hope, not in the desire for things to be better, or fuller, or easier but because of the evidence of God's faithfulness that lies behind. I remember that God has never once failed to come through and I can look ahead with great peace and anticipation even to the things in my future that will replace my new "normal" because the faithfulness of God is my one constant, no matter what else is going on or how things might change. I need not fear the changes or the rearranges because "He who has promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)
I pray that your new year is full of reflection on the One who has brought you safe thus far and abounding in the grace that will lead you home.