I am relieved. It has been a year of dramatic changes. There is always change taking place whether we see it or not; our children grow over night; the plants and seasons change without our notice. But some changes are very perceptible and measurable. Those are the ones that I’d like to slow down!
As I reflect on this year (which is what I have the habit of doing on Dec 31 every year) I am amazed at all that God has brought me through. I am grateful for His provision, protection and most of all Presence.
He has taught me much this year about relying on Him when all around me is changing. Psalm 46 begins and ends with the reminder that God is our refuge and stronghold. Just before the end of the Psalm is the often quoted, “be still and know that I am God”. How can we be still when there is so much doing that needs to be done?
This is a big part of what God has shown me this year: how to ‘be still’ while still moving. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is! Yet it is a Truth that is worth reflecting upon as this year ends and a new one starts.
When you look at the surface of a large body of water ( I am most familiar with the Pacific Ocean but you insert the image that fits for you) there are waves that change in height and frequency depending on the wind. Storms stir up the activity on the surface and being on the water can be rough and dangerous.
Below the surface, into deep water, there is only a gentle motion, almost unnoticeable. The current is present but the motion can be described as nearly still. As I have pondered the mystery of how to be still and still doing, the Lord brought this image to mind: go below the surface of the busy-ness of life, into the depths with Me. He is a very present help, a refuge, our strength, a stronghold, a deliverer; His Word is full of the images that remind us of His Presence in spite of the outer turmoil.
Sometimes the turmoil was overwhelming and I didn’t handle it all very well. I could beat myself up over it. I could lament and stay stuck in ‘my woe is me’ attitude. Or, as I learned through the study of His Word, I could see myself rightly as He sees me. I practiced time alone with Him, with His Word, in His creation, walking and talking with Him alone. Learning from Him along the Way. These sacrifices of “my time” were gifts He gave back to me in volume.
We can say, ‘I’m too busy to be still’ or ‘I have too many demands on me to make time for myself like that’ and keep rushing ahead without peace. We wonder what the Bible means when it says things like ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You because he trusts in You.’ How is that supposed to happen? That must be for someone else that has time to sit around and read and pray. “I don’t have that luxury in my life.”
We can repeat the same pattern of thought and behavior that gets us back to being stuck, or we can choose to go forward thinking differently about ourselves and our circumstances, thinking God’s thoughts.
Oswald Chambers reflected on Isaiah 52:12: “He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if He were not our ‘rear guard’. And God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.”
As this year closes, I am grateful for this knowledge and for the opportunities He gave me to practice and apply these Truths in my life. And now He calls us forward to grow and change. Not to stay the same. We as Christ followers are to be about the business of becoming more Christ-like not about the business of shoring up “the way I am” or “the way I’ve always done things”. There is more to do, grow and change.
I am making plans for this new year. I reflect on what has passed this year and reach forward into the new. God is already there, reaching His hand back to me to lead me forward. He wants to do the same for you. Will you take His hand?
What is one area you are planning to make changes in this coming year?