There are a lot of 'year in review' blog posts out there.
And a lot of 'goals for the year ahead' posts floating around as well.
I'm contemplative enough to find great delight in looking back over the past, taking personal and not-so-personal stock in what has come and gone with the pages of the calendar. But one has to have a handle, a hook (as they call it in the writing world). And I'm not sure I have a hook this year. Or maybe my 'still-recovering-from-surgery' brain doesn't know what that hook is quite yet. So this post will be a bit of a ramble. I'll just let my fingers (and the Spirit? Please, Lord?) work out what might happen on this page.
The other day I saw a Facebook post by a young woman who said she's moved each year for the last decade. "Let's stay where we are, shall we, 2014?", she quipped. And though I realized exactly what she was saying, my instinct was to say, "oh honey, that's the one thing you can't ask. The only thing you CAN count on is that 2014 WILL move. And that YOU'LL move with it!"
Life moves. It just plain moves. Moment by moment. Day by day. Two weeks ago I had a metal plate put in my neck. Now I have a scar that I didn't have for most of 2013, but will have every day in 2014. It's the way of things. A moment happens and we are changed by it forever. Most of those moments aren't nearly as visible as a scar on one's throat, but even the smallest, most unlikely ones can change a life. I think of all those moments in my life: the one where I chose to run across a street without looking when I was seven years old, and was hit by a car. Or when my dad decided to take a job in Pullman, Washington rather than in Iowa or New Mexico or stay in the navy. That decision (OF HIS) changed my life.
My point is that I can look back on this year, as well as most years, and see how God-haunted it has been. My younger daughter took a temporary job at the end of 2012 that directly led her to the job and life she now has in the Bay area in 2014. She doesn't love this particular job, but she cannot deny that GOD has led her where she is, that HE has revealed a ministry for her that she never saw coming--with inner city kids, with Young Life, the very organization that brings her full circle to where Beve and I took our first baby steps in discipleship 42 years ago. But for SK, it all began with answering yes to a temporary job. Sure, God could have done it a different way. HE's God. But He didn't. He uses our simple decisions and ordinary lives to grow us.
I think of my older brother who began the year working in the deep-freeze of Siberia, and ended it on a different project in the jungle-climate of Hydrobad, India. Other Americans around him complain about how things are (or aren't) done on their project, but my brother simply says, "You should be in Bratsck." He learned perspective in 2013, by doing his job. His ordinary job in extraordinary places. God does that, too.
I think of my older daughter who's seen dreams come true in 2013. God has met her at every turn, school, job, condo, community. She's a planner, my E is. She likes things all laid out on a grid, and 2013 was a more windy road than she'd have wished but God knows her, and He hasn't failed her in the most ordinary of ways.
Yep, it's been a good year. In large and small ways.
It'd be easy to worry about the hard parts.
You know what I mean, don't you?
I mean, just look around. We watch the news these days (E's dream job IS with a Seattle TV News Station, after all!), we see what's going on. Beve comes home with stories that have turned his beautiful dark, dark brown (really black!) hair completely gray. This city, this state, this country, this world...Pollution, economic crises, government incompetence, evil of every kind at every turn. Yes, our 'problems' are legion. If only they could be foisted upon a herd of pigs and sent over a cliff into the sea, so we could be rid of them.
But they can't. We live with them. We live uneasily with these issues on our diseased and sin-filled planet. Uneasily and fearfully. But here's the thing: whatever we see on the news isn't the boss of us. Sorry about the poor grammar, but that's the best way I can think to say it. Even our own FEAR isn't the boss of us, if we don't let it.
He didn't let it. He allowed Himself to to wrapped in dirty rags, learn to walk as a human being, grow up among working-class folks (because that's how you learn), just to get to the point where He could tell us, show us, BE the answer for that fear. And not simply the fear but for why we HAVE the fear--the real ugliness that lies outside our doors.
I don't want that to be the last word of 2013, nor the first word of 2014. I don't want fear or evil ugliness to be the last word EVER, because it isn't. It just isn't. "I believe and have come to know that YOU, Jesus, are the HOLY one of God." That's the last word. A bit of a paraphrase of Peter's great declaration, but that's what it comes down to for me.
Today and every day.
I have a few scars on this 56-year-old body of mine. More than you really want to know, actually. And a brand new one has joined them. Each of these scars is part of my story, a story that has, honestly, had brokenness and pain in it. But each scar has also been met with Him reminding me that HE is bigger than anything else. The ordinary decisions have led me to Him and the unfathomable fears have also led me to Him, because I believe and have come to know that HE IS the Holy one of GOD, and believing, I have life in His Name.
Happy 2014. May you move with Him as the year moves with you.