I write this with trepidation in my mind and a bit of worry in my heart, but I'm also buzzing with anticipation. This is the year that I have honestly no clue what to expect. At all. Like, not even a little bit.
This is the year that will surprise me every day. I feel like I'm running towards it blindly, and maybe that's a good thing. But I also realized that it is my last year of childhood. Age is just a number, yes, but new responsibilities are not just imaginary. I am going to have to learn to take care of myself. I'm going to have to mature faster than ever, and learn how to be independent. This year holds many troubles and stresses, I have no doubt about that. But it also will bring grace, mercy, friendship, and compassion from many different people. I know it will.
Last night as I was finishing off my 17th birthday with devotions, I freaked out. I suddenly realized I wasn't ready to grow up. I wasn't ready to move out or live on my own or be in charge of myself. I wasn't ready to say good-bye to my family- I need them still. I felt so unprepared. I felt like I was strapped onto a conveyor belt hurtling towards independence faster than I could comprehend. I felt so much anxiety and stress, all I could do was lie on my floor and hyperventilate.
And as I lay there, curled up like a baby, blinking rapidly and trying hard to figure everything out- figure a way out- a song by Tenth Avenue North started playing on my iTunes.
we are free to struggle.
We're not struggling to be free.
Your blood brought and makes us children.
Children, drop your chains and sing!
God is seriously the coolest, you guys.
We are free to struggle, but we're not struggling to be free. We have already been purchased! We have already been redeemed! There is no struggle, no fear, no worry that can plunge us back into darkness. We have been saved by the light, and He is with us forever! He promised that! But we are still free to struggle, and we will continue to struggle. Why?
Because He is building our testimony.
I had that revelation last night as I lay there panicking, and I knew for a fact that it was all God. It was His words. It was His Spirit in me telling me that. It was one of those times where I knew I didn't come up with it on my own, because it was almost as if I audibly heard those words. "I am building your testimony." Over and over and over. I scrambled to write it down- not that I could ever forget it. But I was in such awe.
I began to think through the Bible of all the sinners, the beggars, the crippled, the sick, the blind, the lonely. I thought of their struggles. And I noticed a pattern. In John 9, we read about Jesus healing a blind man. The dialogue between Jesus and the disciples is perfect and comforting:
John 9:1-5 ~
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
I feel like being blind would be a pretty difficult struggle. Just a feeling. Not ever being able to see, having to completely rely on those around you and your other senses. In fact, blind is somewhat how I feel right now, looking at the year ahead. I have no clue where I'm going. And it's a struggle. But this is is happening so that the works of God might be displayed through me.
Have you noticed that the most amazing stories you hear at conferences or in sermons or read in books, start out with great suffering? That's what makes them amazing! The fact that God takes people from a low point where it seemed like there was no hope, and turned everything around. Those are the stories that inspire us and cause us to praise God for His mighty works. Those are the stories that prove to us that God is real, and God is here! But there had to be struggling. There had to be weakness for those stories to happen. That was God building a testimony of His power and love.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10~
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
You tell me, what is better? Having a peaceful, relaxing, successful life in which nobody comes to Christ through you, or living a painful, horrific, terrifying life through which your growth and struggle portray the mighty hand of God, for the benefit of everyone who heard your story? We weren't made to have an easy life. We were made to live a Christlike life. A life where the struggle to do good and have faith is what ultimately brings the salvation of souls- the ultimate goal.
This is my first blog post of 2015. I'm not at all sure of what will transpire between now and 2016. All I know is that I will be writing posts bursting with joy and praise, posts dripping with sadness and fright, posts hot with frustration and anger, or posts of complete confusion and loss. I know that this year I will cry tears of joy, disbelief, anger, sadness, depression, stress, confusion, and loneliness. But through it all, God is building my testimony, so that his strength, wisdom, and unfailing love can witness to everyone. No matter what happens this year, it will be for the glory of God. My greatest joys, my deepest cries, they will all be a testament to the perfect love of He who is already there.
Which is why I will write about it all.