Friday, November 23, 2012

My 29th Year

Well, this is it, folks.  Today’s the day.  I have officially now become a red-headed, Christian Bridget Jones, a single thirtysomething woman, and I'm expecting the proverbial scales to appear on my body any minute now.

I had all sorts of ideas on what to write about today, but ultimately, all my thoughts came back to one thing:   this past year.  So, instead of waxing philosophical about turning 30, I thought I’d take a minute and look back on year 29, because it was, indeed, one for the books.

This year, God brought me closer to Himself than I've ever been.

This year, God shoved me out of my comfort zone with regards to faith, theology, and knowledge of Himself.  He challenged me in the ways I thought about Him, His love, His grace, and His will.  He pointed me towards a new church and watched me sit in the parking lot after getting there early (I'm never early!), praying nervously before the service started.  He pried open my mind with a holy crowbar and dumped in ideas I’d never dreamed of in all my previous years serving Him.

This year, God forced me to face some of my deepest-seeded fears.  The fear that I'm not good enough.  The fear of trusting someone else with my heart.  The fear of sharing the most hidden parts of myself.  The fear of all my flaws, my shortcomings, and my secrets being laid bare.  The fear of saying, “This is me, faults and all” to someone who really mattered.  He even held me in my seat when, sitting in a huge auditorium in downtown Raleigh, I was so completely terrified that all I wanted to do was run to the parking lot and drive away.  (I'm so glad I didn't.)

This year, God trusted me with the beginnings of a significant, powerful, multi-denominational ministry.  He called me to step up in ways He never has before.  He pushed my introverted self into new situations, new challenges, and new moments where I had to step forward, shake a hand, introduce myself, and talk about my faith.  He put everything on the line and asked, “Will you?” – and, of course, I knew I had to say yes.  He gave me brand new responsibilities and accountabilities, put children with wide eyes in front of me to teach, and branched out my own personal ministry further than it’s ever reached.

This year, God showed me just a little bit of the future – of things He had promised me and spoken to me years ago during my time in the desert with Him in England.  When I first meet someone new, my question to them is “If you could be doing anything, what would it be?”  If I had to answer that myself, I’d say I’d be doing what I was doing this past year:  working in ministry, growing in closeness with God, entertaining, learning, teaching, sharing, and bringing people together, all in a mutually supportive, respectful, loving, laughter-filled, faith-challenging partnership.

This year, God blessed me with the knowledge of what it is to really be in love.  To love someone so deeply that I’d drive until I run out of gas because he’s asleep in the seat beside me.  To love someone so completely that it feels like a light has gone out in the room when he’s not here.  To love someone so spiritually that our personalities, ideas, world-views  and personal ministries lined up with each other’s like puzzle pieces I didn't even know I was missing until God snapped them together.  To know what it feels like to have found the person who brings me closest to God, and about whom I can confidently say that we can do more together than we can do apart.

And then this year, God spoke to me and molded me through overwhelming, heart wrenching, soul-confounding grief.  He watched me weep – angrily, bitterly, and then just sadly.  He let me vent; He listened silently as I questioned Him and yelled at Him.  His heart broke as mine did.  He waited months for me to lean in and actually try to hear Him, and when I finally did, He told me it’s not about me.  He answered my cry of “What do I do now?!” with four simple words that shouldn't have surprised me:“Let Me use you.”

I will do it, my dear child.  I will keep My promises.  But right now, it’s not about you.  You want to know what you should do?  Pray.  Get closer to Me.  Get stronger in your knowledge of the Word, your fruits of the Spirit, your understanding of My love and grace and forgiveness.  Let Me prepare you.  Let Me strengthen you.  And then, let Me use you.

So that is what I intend to do – continue, always, to let Him use me.

That was my 29th year.  Let’s see what my Lord does with my 30th.