Perhaps you have read this before and you can relate: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
Undoubtedly, this is one of the greatest lines found in A Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens.
It also pretty much sums up 2013 for me.
Unbelievably great things have happened:
• Wonderful trips to South Florida, Hawaii, and Israel
• Celebrating thirty-eight years of marriage to my best friend
On the other hand, we’ve had some things as a church and a family that have been extremely difficult to navigate. Things I didn’t see coming…things I didn’t expect or enjoy.
It truly has been the best and worst of times…enough said.
Perhaps, it’s what we learn in the journey that matters most. Perhaps, the good and the not so good tend to come hand-in-hand. Perhaps, life is a mixed bag, and yet I can choose what I focus on.
I’ve learned (again) how I never deserve the favor of God and yet He continues to surprise me with His grace.
I’ve learned (again) how precious His presence is to me in the valley of the shadows.
I’ve learned (again) the value of good friends. As the philosopher Charlie Brown once said, “A friend who understands your tears is much more valuable that a lot of friends who only know your smile.”
I’ve learned (again) that if life was easy, I probably wouldn’t lean on God as much as I should or grow as much as I need to grow.
When I look back over 2013, I see God’s hand. I see His goodness. I see His kindness. I see One who has never and will never let me down. Without a doubt, I also see plenty that still baffles me. But where is it written that I will always understand everything along the journey?
Christmas is a time to remember, a time to reflect, and a time to rejoice. Know that we remember you and rejoice over your friendship.
My prayer for you and me as we face a new year is simple: Father, please help us to stay focused on You, to stay comforted by Your abiding presence, to stay filled with Your hope no matter what we may face, and to stay the course one day at a time.
“Trust in Your Father
with every part of your being.
Stop trying to figure out everything
along the way.
Make Him your first and greatest priority,
and know this:
He will get you precisely
where you need to be,
exactly when you need to be there.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Bubna Paraphrase Version!)