Day 1. Finally, it’s here. I can hardly believe I made it. 2014 gave me tangible evidence that the valley of the shadow of death really does exist on this side of eternity. My life has known no darkness like I experienced in the last collection of 365 days. The lessons the Lord saw fit to teach me were more difficult and painful than I anticipated any experience to ever be. Yet, He rescued me. Miraculously, I live to tell about his grace from this day forward.
I’m not one much for New Year’s resolutions. I’m more of a goal setter, I guess. And goals are gradual steps towards an end – not usually found in laundry list form on the set “make a goal” duty day. When I resolve to do something, it is usually more of a process which is dependent upon my circumstances and motivation on a random day of inspiration.
Nevertheless, given last year’s daunting failings, today just so happens to be that day. Today is tangible grace. Today proves that I serve a God of great mercy. Today I want to celebrate his goodness and nail 2014 right up on the cross for good. Because I have walked, ran, clawed, and cried through the valley of 2014, I know I have been remade. I have been remade. I am George Bailey the moment he realizes he has come back to life. God has heard my desperate pleas to let me live again and he has saved me. After several failed attempts by the Enemy to destroy me, I have run home safe with unmitigated gratitude.
No one and nothing can stop me from rejoicing in the God of my salvation now. He has been so good to me even after I have been so bad to him. I know the extent of his love and grace like never before. Therefore, out of sheer disbelief and thanksgiving, I must resolve a few specific things today. Ere goes my offering for 2015:
1. Pray more. The antecedent to my fall last year was doubtless the result of a severe lack of prayer. I will not allow such complacent laziness to situate me in a place of spiritual vulnerability ever again. Lack of prayer is extraordinarily dangerous. Ask me how I know. Prayer is the single most important activity on my agenda this year.
2. Forgiveness. When darkness fell upon me, the deeds that followed cut directly to my heart. Without forgiveness, ill effects of my wrongs and the wrongs done against me will only bring more suffering. That suffering is evidenced in bitterness, anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, and vengeance – all of which I’ve either experienced or contemplated thus far. I have (finally) chosen forgiveness in their stead. I refuse to hate. I will not retaliate. I have been given tremendous grace and I seek to withdraw any right I thought I had to deny that same grace to even my fiercest enemies. Forgiveness offers freedom from entrapment in the past’s pain. Forgiveness is as much for me as it is for my enemies.
3. Focus. Getting caught up in the wrong things often results from a forsaken focus on the right things. And I have so many right things in my wretchedly undeserved life. I will pour into the beautiful people and purposes God has so generously given me. My prayer is to stay the course diligently, with vigilance, and cease to allow distraction by the inessential.
4. Share. I have a story. In fact, I have a few. Before the year is over I will invest in the writing of the lessons the matter has brought with intent to offer hope to those whose valley is 2015, 16, or 17. I am living proof that miracles still happen and the story of my life is surely evidence. Restoration and redemption is possible even in the worst of circumstances. I know because those two words are written all over my life. Without them I would not be here writing this today.
I am praying much more. Pray with me.
I am forgiven. I have forgiven. Forgive me. Forgive with me.
I am stayed and focused on the race set before me. Focus with me.
I have begun to share my story. Share yours.
Welcome, 2015. I resolve to fear no evil.