2019 was a hard year. It marked the end of a twenty-eight year era raising kids.
It was the year of desert dwelling. 2019 was the year I learned a million things I may or may not have known before.
So here are the top five lessons.
1. Faith is more than salvation.
God has been inviting me to believe the promises about his love and goodness. I’m learning His promises are not just for me when I sin and need forgiveness, but because He’s for me. I realized I believed the abundant life promises of John 10:10 were for others, not me. God has been showing me something different.
2. God meets you where you are.
God met me in my desert year through an old copy of Streams in the Desert belonging to my husband’s grandma. As a former history teacher, I gravitate towards aged wisdom and historical stories.
In addition, my husband and I were asked to teach the 80-90 year old Sunday School class in our church. He and I now soak up real wisdom from tried-and-true faith warriors weekly, people who also care for us!
God knows you and I intimately. He met me right where I was, through the exact way He knew I would hear him. This has shown me how personal and caring He is.
3. Jesus is The Good Shepherd
In October, I taught a retreat on Psalm 23. I studied Jesus, the Good Shepherd, from John 10. I learned Jesus is my caretaker and nurturer. His qualities as the Good Shepherd connected with my mother’s heart.
Now I know He cares for me as I have my children. The picture of the Good Shepherd, the pasture and it’s protective boundaries, in addition to the Streams in the Desert devotional, opened my eyes to the love Jesus has for me. Knowing him so personally in a mundane life has been like a stream of living water in a desert-parched soul.
4. Doubt is the tool of the enemy.
I also read a book on spiritual warfare called War on the Saints by Jessie Penn Lewis. The book was written in the early 1900’s by a woman who had a keen understanding of spiritual warfare in the wake of the Welsh Revival. The visual representation of how the enemy works met almost every question I was wrestling with in my faith.
I learned doubt and deception are the primary tools of the enemy. I clearly saw how my desert time was a spiritual battle.
Be gentle with me: I know I should have seen this. But the questions and doubts I had were subtle. They were wrapped in lies I’ve believed since a child: I’m a problem. God just tolerates me. I’m only acceptable when I’m good or trying to change what needs to be fixed.
I’m learning that God is for me when I’m not doing anything special. Just being…God is for me.
5. Forgiveness brings peace.
In late October, I forgave someone who caused a deep wound several years ago.
It wasn’t a generic “I forgive you” or “let go and let God” moment. It was a conversation where I spoke from my heart, with authentic words of how the offense harmed me, with the intent of restitution.
I was freed from the offense after the conversation. It didn’t happen with flashes of lightening or thunder. Instead, my heart and mind are lighter. I feel free from being bound. I don’t dwell on thoughts about the situation. Things that used to trigger angst, sadness, and hurt no longer do.
I think more clearly and I feel joy.
I feel joy.
2019 began by me telling my husband, “I’m really okay, but I’m not doing too good.”
In December, I said, “I feel joy.”
The irony of this year is that nothing significant changed in my life, other than being an empty-nester. The situations that pulled me down haven’t changed.
What has changed is my mind and heart. This is the work of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, through the work of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of me.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” Galatians 5:22-23.
This promise I’ve found to be true: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you,” James 4:8.
No matter where you are in 2020, draw near to Jesus Christ. He will meet you where you are. He won’t fail you. Like me, your circumstances may not change. What will change is you, through the work of the Holy Spirit when you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Would you like to have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Here’s a place to start.
Join me in 2020.
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