As 2013 draws to a close I’ve been thinking about what this year has brought; the ups & downs, regrets & opportunities. A lot has changed this year & a lot has remained the same. Around this time last year our family found out that my Dad had cancer & the year started off with a series of multiple surgeries followed by chemo & radiation treatments. What we’ve been praying for was a healing in 2014, but about 6wks. ago we learned my Dad’s cancer has spread & with that news we face another year that, health wise anyways, could be more of the same.
From the outside you would guess that the year was marked by my Dad’s cancer struggle, but 2013 brought a closure to me that I was not expecting. For several years now I’ve been healing from guilt about deceit I was involved with a few years ago. Even though I thought I had moved on from it, in a quiet way The Lord brought this guilt back to the surface & really made me deal with it. What I had placed in an envelope sealed with,”to deal with later” The Lord showed me that “later” was 2013. After an 11wk. intense Bible Study on Beth Moore’s Breaking Free that culminated in me delivering my testimony at our church’s Woman’s Retreat; where I confessed the deceit, lying & manipulation I was involved in & I finally knew that chapter of my life was closed. Not to be forgotten, but to remind myself that I’m not that person anymore & I was created to be better than the person I used to be who chose that route.
My relationship with God has changed in ways I’m not sure I even understand yet. I’ve been angrier at Him more this year than I ever can recall being, yet simultaneously I’ve also relied on Him more than I ever have. The enemy has fought hard for me this year & he won more times than I’d care to admit. He dug into my insecurities, weaknesses & temptations and I willingly allowed those thoughts & actions to steal my joy. I’m not afraid to admit that following The Lord was hard this year. The closer I seemed to draw to God; getting & studying deeper into His Word, changing patterns in my life that line up more with His plan & will than my own, Bible Studies, church leadership roles & enrolling in an in-depth discipleship program, the heavier stresses seemed to come my way. Working through pain is never easy, but I think God makes you deal with painful shit because He knows the amazing work you’re going to do for His kingdom because of where you’ve been & where you stand now. Plenty of times this year I lacked faith & plenty of times The Lord revealed Himself to me in the midst of my doubt. I think The Lord deals with us in stages because we couldn’t handle a clean sweep all at once (as awesome as that would be). If The Lord came in & cleaned house for us, without any work on our part, how long would it take for us to trash it up again??? Not long because we would never appreciate how truly muddied up our lives really were unless we got our own hands dirty cleaning it.
This was the year He laid the opportunity at my feet to start cleaning up that specific mess. And I obeyed even though it was painful. This prayer of closure that I prayed years ago, has been answered. The harvest can now come.
My Dad’s a smoker. He’s seeing the consequences of years of abuse. As a child I used to pray to a God in my Children’s Bible that once delivered 3 teenagers from a fire, Jonah from a whale & Daniel from a lion’s den that He would get my Dad to quit smoking. Fast-forward several years & a Doctor telling my Dad he wouldn’t even do surgery to remove the cancerous tumor unless he quit smoking & my Dad has finally quit. God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want him to. Sometimes He makes us get our hands dirty; by having our lungs grow tired, our body ache from chemotherapy & the possibility of years being taken away for us to realize we don’t ever want to be that person again. We don’t get to choose how or when God answers our prayers, but if having cancer- regardless of the outcome- is how God chooses to work His hands in this situation, I trust that.
I come into 2014 hopeful. Hopeful that this is the harvest season for so many long- prayed-prayers. And I’m so grateful that God hears those prayers even when I think He doesn’t. And the promise that He will reveal His answer when the timing is absolutely perfect.
Blessings to you & yours for the promises to be revealed in 2014!!!