I’ve been taking some time this week to reflect on God’s provision in 2018…
Where did I start the year and what did walking with God look like for me over the course of the year? A beautiful thing about God’s graciousness towards us is that if we tune in and pay attention, there are mile markers to this pilgrimage through our earthly life. And the markers are unique for each of our journeys.
Sure, we can stumble and stagger through, we can run with no clear direction, or we can pout stubbornly along the road. I have been guilty of all of these approaches plenty of times. But what freedom and security there is in taking the time with God to remember where we have been in order to be assured of where we are going!
In my pondering I realized I had to back up to August of 2017, because it was a mile marker month for us. The month that our darling baby girl was born. Actually … I had to back up just a little further.
What started as a reflection on 2018 became a long reflection on the last 2 years……….
Before we found out that we were expecting a third addition to our family, I was in an invigorating season with God. This was like a train for a triathlon season. Exciting! And hard. But so good. It began in early 2017, during a Sunday morning worship service. I was praying and I had heard God tell me, “I’m going to teach you to run.” And He did. I was pumped. I didn’t know what it meant in the beginning but as I held on to those words, Scripture study began to open up for me on a deeper level than I had known in all my Bible reading years. I was in a position to actually share with a small group of young girls what God was teaching me. I was learning to pray the scriptures over my life and family. At the same time, I had an invitation to actually start a running program with my aunt. It was thrilling – I was learning to run in every way!
My days started before the sun was up. Precious moments with Father. As I ran with Him, His life and blood flowed through me, strengthening, awakening, sustaining. I felt His life flowing from me to my family in love, in grace, in forgiveness, and patience. Writings such as The Soap In The Dough and Perspective Change were birthed out of that season. And if you ask my husband, he will tell you what God did in mine and in his heart during that time. So much grace and freedom. More than I can write about here…And then, in December, we found out that our family would be expanding!
I knew from the beginning that she would be my little girl – my light and joy. (Elena Joy) I was delighted to know I was carrying a daughter. I also knew from prior experience what I could likely expect from the coming nine months. Of course, I prayed and we prayed as a family that I would be spared the dreaded morning sickness. But alas, it came and it did not relent. You know how a seed has to go into the ground and die before it brings new life? That’s basically what I do until about week 20 of pregnancy. At which point, I look like I am literally about to burst forth with life. But I still have another 20+ weeks to go. I can’t really further explain what happens to me on a physical, mental and emotional level during those beginning weeks of morning sickness. It is a dark and difficult time.
But the sun dawned again on our family. And there she was. I would so often just stare at her in that euphoria of the early days of motherhood reborn. Drunk on that kind cocktail of hormones, creatively and specifically designed to make you glow and smile and love on a deeper depth than you could have imagined. Bliss. I love those days. We are reborn as mothers with each new child.
Life began to find its rhythm again and I grew increasingly aware of a feeling of loss. I realized, I was not running anymore. Things were moving at a pace that was both frantically demanding and painfully stalled. Life was running. I was not. I started thinking of a plan for how I could somehow regain the rhythm I had so enjoyed before… The problem was I couldn’t see it. In all my love for planning and organizing, I began to panic in realizing that I didn’t see a space in my life for the run.
One particular morning I poured my heart out to God. I wanted to know, how could I make this work? How could I get up at 5:00am and spend hours with him and maybe go for an actual run and take care of kids and school and housework?! There was desire in my prayer but there was also a driving shame and discipline and grab for some way to arrange for my walk to become a run again. As I prayed, I heard two words so clearly from the Lord “Grace and Covering”. My heart slowed and rested. There would be times when I would long for the run again. There would also be times that condemnation and an ungodly discipline would seize my heart with the drive to do more and be more. Do you know you can read the Bible with a wrong motive? You can even get up early and try to pray and force your heart to grow, all from a very unfathered place. But I would come back to His words – grace and covering. Grace and Covering. My soul would slow down and rest.
So that is where I meant to begin in my reflections because I feel in my heart that I am entering into a new season with new terrain. I want to look at where He has brought me. God came through for me so powerfully and beautifully from the end of 2017 and all throughout 2018 with grace and covering. Our family went through a shaking in this time. Many external factors of our life shifted. But in the shaking, broken foundations were exposed and rebuilt from a place of love and trust. There was a grace that flowed out of me during the season of my running and it returned to me in joyful abundance during the season of grace and covering. God’s grace poured out on me with such favor and provision. In the same season that I had a daughter, I truly became a daughter of my Father God. The word covering came most mightily through Micah. God had brought him into sonship and established him in authority as the leader of our household. Micah had experienced so much freedom and calling out as a son and he was able to truly be a covering for me during a time when I didn’t have the resources of time or energy to fortify my heart. His walk with God and life in prayer covered and strengthened me.
Now before this begins to paint a picture of heavenly perfection, let me remind you. We still live in this fallen world and we are saved and being saved from this fallen way of life. It is not perfect. Were there days when I forgot the promises of God and immediate access I had as His beloved daughter and sunk into loneliness and abandonment? Yes.
Were there days when I stubbornly refused to enter in to His “grace and covering “ and looked for other things to satisfy the longing in my soul? Uh, Yes. Hence the struggle with the 5lb bag of peanut butter m&ms (Thank you Sams Club) and binge watching the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. (Hey, Micah learned how to paint a mountain landscape out of it!)
Were there days when I decided I would make it happen and absolutely wore myself out, and frustrated my family with the demand for everyone to perform perfectly? Those are the kind of days where you grump around the house, doing a million tasks and yet nothing ever seems to get done. Oh yes, there were days like that.
But more and more and more there was grace and covering. Even for the lonely, stubborn, and grumpy days.
And I didn’t stay in those days. I remembered His faithfulness, His holiness, and His promise. As I look back over the year, I see the strategic moments when I turned my heart to Him and He whispered, “daughter” every time. I see where He planted treasures and surprises along the way. I see where my obedience and willingness to slow down and be in the moment opened the door for my heart to hear His laughter and His voice, singing over me. It is ALL I need. I see where I have been… grace and covering. And now, my heart is bursting with a new prayer. “Father, I want to live in your house! I want the wonder, freedom, and play of being your child.” I am excited for where He is leading me. I wouldn’t call it a run but it’s not really a walk either. It feels more like a skip and a dance. Yep, I’m skipping and dancing with my Dad.
I offer all of this to turn to you and say, Have you reflected on the last year or even years of your walk with God?
It can be a really exciting thing to do!
It can also be a very sobering thing to do.
Be sure, there is something He has been speaking to you. There is something He wants you to know. Ask Him. Take some time with Him and let Him show you where you’ve been and assure you that He is with you wherever you’re headed. If you aren’t sure what He is saying now, try to remember what the last thing was He said to you. It’s a good starting place. And if you still aren’t sure then know this: He is always speaking love over you. Let that be the foundation you build on. His love. There is sufficient grace and covering for you if you turn your heart to Him.