"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Have you ever felt like you were at the beginning of something extraordinary but you didn't know what it was? A little bit like that wildly scary and thrilling moment as you climb the last couple of feet up the first incline on a roller-coaster, ready at any moment for the ride of your life that makes you scream for fear and laugh for joy so much that you can't wait to do it again?
I feel like that today. I've never given much heed to New Year's resolutions or the like, but for some reason that I'm not sure of, this year seems different. I'm filled with excited anticipation today. I have great expectations for what the year ahead might hold.
Maybe it's because 2013 has been the hardest year of my life. It was the first full year without my mom...a year when every single day I thought of more questions that I can't ask her, and it aches. It was the year that God called me to lay down a ministry I love, at least temporarily, and stay home full time. It was the year that Paul and I had to learn (sometimes painfully) to live on one income, and that's been very challenging. It was the year we parented, simultaneously, the most challenging infant and the most challenging three year-old we've experienced thus far, and the combo brought us to tears many days. It was a year of turmoil in our church that brought pain to us all.
So maybe my feeling today is just because I'm a little relieved that 2013 is over. But, I know that struggle in this life is actually a guarantee, and 2014 will hold struggles as well. One of Jesus' most sobering and simultaneously most hopeful promises is this: "In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" John 16:33.
But 2013 also held times of tremendous joy and growth, so I don't think relief is the only reason I feel like I'm at the top of a rollercoaster. I feel like it has more to do with this amazing promise in Isaiah 43:19 - "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?"
When the God of the Universe who created heaven and earth and all the mountains and stars announces He is doing a new thing, it should take our breath away. We ought to gasp and wait in anticipation. I feel like I'm holding my breath, awaiting whatever God has prepared to do in my life and my family's life. I have some ideas of what He's got in store for us, but only He really knows for sure.
Today I was mixing up some snack mix for my kids. It was a combination of cheetoes, popcorn, chocolate chunks, marshmallows, fruit loops, and animal crackers. As I was mixing it up and thinking with anticipation about 2014, I found myself amused at the similarities between a new year and that snack mix. You don't know what all it holds until you get to the bottom of the cup - some is sweet, some is sour, some is salty, some is cheesy. I thought my kids were going to be thrilled with mom's creativity:) They weren't. Lily ate out the chocolate chunks and left the rest. She lamented despondently, "I wish it was all chocolate chunks."
Don't we all?
2014 isn't going to be all chocolate chunks.
I believe that 2014 is a year in which God is calling our family to new obedience.
Obedience gets a bad rap in our culture today, as if it's boring and limiting. But it's not. Obedience to God is anything but boring. It's exciting and challenging and a little nerve-wracking. When we are obedient to God, He is able to work through us and in us in ways beyond our wildest imaginations. He'll stretch us and grow us for His glory. How could that ever be boring? It's risky and hard and thrilling.
I don't know exacting why or how God is going to ask us to obey, but I'm certain that's His call for our family this year. And honestly, I'm thrilled. I'm giddy about it. Nervous, but giddy.
I have great expectations for what God is doing. What is His "new thing" going to be this time?
In Isaiah 44:3 God says, "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants."
POUR. Not a trickle. A DOWNPOUR. Like an August thunderstorm during which the rain comes in pouring sheets. He will POUR His Spirit (which is a Spirit of POWER and LOVE and SELF-CONTROL) upon my children and my household. Yes please God.
The land is thirsty at our house. 2013 was exhausting. The last 10 days have been a time of rest and sleep and renewal. It's been beautiful family time that has revived us, full of laughter and chocolate and sledding and movies and late night talks with family and close friends. It's been a respite. I'm so sad that Christmas break ends tomorrow.
And as we enter January we are well aware that we are entering what will be a very challenging time financially and we're a bit anxious. It's also frigidly cold and our kids are already stir-crazy for the snow to melt. Winter looks like it's going to last forever. We're thirsty.
But God is abundant. He will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on dry ground. He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. What sweet promises.
God wants us to expect Him to move in great and mighty ways. And like our pastor said in church this past Sunday, we must remember that God's faithful sustaining hand during times of struggle is JUST AS great and mighty as those times when He miraculously brings us out of struggle.
So how about you? What are your great expectations? Are you expectant? God is great and mighty, so we're remiss if we don't expect anything. In Isaiah 43:13 God says, "I work, and who can turn it back?" That's power. And not only is He powerful, but He is for you. He loves you, He created you, He has plans for you, and He is on your side.
So let's make 2014 a year of great expectations. Let's expect God to move in mighty ways because that's who He is. Let's ask Him to POUR His spirit upon our families like an August thunderstorm.
I realize that I titled this blog after a Charles Dickens novel that I think I was supposed to read in high school. I have an English minor so I should know something of that novel. But I know nothing of that novel. I probably only read the sparks notes, honestly.
But I do know something of God. And he can handle our great expectations. So what are yours?