If I had to categorize 2017, it could be summed up in one word. Weird! I mean seriously. That was quite easily the weirdest year of my life. For all y’all who know me well, weird is what I do and who I am. But 2017 stole the show!! We had floods, massive wildfires, mass shootings, gender fluidity, verbal septic leaks from powerful people, and just about everyone was accused of sexual misconduct in Hollywood and the White House. Now 2017 wasn’t all bad! Our family added a new member named Claire and she can be just as sweet as sugar. My sister had a sweet baby boy five days later (Who by the way increased our prayer life exponentially!!) Other than the fact that I’m still alive… hold on… No I got nothing. Yes 2017 was a weird one. If I had to illustrate it for a good mental picture (and I usually do). Here is what 2017 was like figuratively speaking!
2017 was like that one girl you went on a date with in college. She was ugly, cross-eyed, and had an unpleasant odor. (This never happened to me personally, but I had a friend this happened too! 🙂 I had a spotless dating record, cough cough!) Call it a pity date or sheer desperation, you go on the date against your better judgment. The whole time you are praying that you don’t bump into anyone you know and at every turn you are plotting an escape route. I mean how are you going to explain why you are spending time with her. And you know that the cliche’, “She has a nice personality” will never work in your defense. You make it through the dinner and a movie. You try to set the land speed record to get her home without getting a ticket, because you don’t want to drag this out any longer than possible. On the ride home, you surmise how to end the evening. Do you slow up just enough and tell her to “Tuck and roll?” Do you lie by telling her “You’ll call her and for her not to call you?” Are you praying for the rapture to happen right now to end your suffering? 2017 right there.
To be honest, I was hoping for some breakthroughs in 2017. Most of which were unfulfilled and not looking good currently, leaving me with lower standards now that we are 3 days into 2018. Have I lost all hope? No, Jesus is still ruling sovereign. Have I transitioned to pessimist? No, but maybe more of a realist than my usual optimistic self. 2017 left a bad taste in my mouth and I am scared to nibble on the new year.
So where does that leave me? Perhaps you feel the same way. Maybe last year didn’t go as planned for you either. I know I made some huge mistakes and fell short on several goals. Where does God fit in the mix of a rough last year and unknown new year?
My quiet time with Jesus this morning gave me a breath of fresh air that I needed. My hope is that it will do the same for you. “Think about this with me. Your Father God loves you as you are, not as you should be. He loves you beyond fidelity and infidelity, beyond worthiness and unworthiness. He loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain. He loves you equally in your state of grace and in your state of disgrace. He loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit, breaking point. No matter what happens or what you do…He can’t stop loving you!” Now read Luke 15:11-23.
I needed to read that this morning. No matter what difficulties, trials, or screw ups you faced last year or will face this year, remember you are loved completely by our Father God. We tend to forget that when the storms of life toss us around. No matter how good or bad you are, God loves you. Carry that into the new year, not the baggage of all your problems. I don’t know what the future holds for me and my family, but I trust God and I know He loves me. With that assurance, I can face anything.
My prayer for this year begins this way:
“Father God, thank you for loving me in spite of myself. Thank you for forgiving all my missed steps and opportunities. Let me feel your love and grace on a deeper level this year. Help me be a better dad, husband, and minister of the gospel. Make me more useful for your purposes. Help me point more people to you than ever before. Thank you for coming for me, I am all yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Grace and Peace to you in the New Year. Remember you are loved by God. Who needs to see that in you today?
- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2005), 240-241.