Sunday, January 2, 2011
The Year of Redemption
This morning our pastor encouraged some quiet time in which we were supposed to look back over the last year to see where God had brought us. I didn't want to at first. There's a lot of pain in 2010 and I'd rather it just stayed there. But I did anyway. And I realized for the first time that 2010 wasn't just another year that's now only memory. It was our year of redemption.
We've been through hell the past few years. Starting when our home burned to the ground in 2007. Our faith in God and people has been sorely tested. It's felt like we've drifted in a never-ending fog for so long that we've forgotten what the sun looks like. 2010 started where 2009 left off: in a fog of uncertainty, doubt, anger, pain, and questioning. It seemed as if God had forgotten us. Or, worse, was up there enjoying making us miserable.
But you know how sometimes when you come out of a dense fog, it happens so gradually that you don't notice at first? Then all of a sudden you're like "whoa, where'd the fog go?" That happened to me today. I don't know when or how but the fog is gone. And the sun is brilliantly shining.
I looked back over the year and I saw the steady, faithful hand of God, even when I pushed Him away. Even when I railed against Him in anger. He never left. What kind of love is this that stays and waits for you to notice it? While still loving all the time? That's some crazy love.
We had lost so much yet we almost gave up everything else. But God.... all the great stories have a "But God" in them. But God restored our marriage. But God gave us a new life. But God soothed our hurting hearts and started the slow process of knitting them back together again. But God, who seemingly took everything from us except each other (and we almost lost that), has begun to restore and give back ten-fold. "But God, who is rich in mercy....."
Oh, I still have questions, believe you me. I still have doubts. But it's not a belligerent questioning anymore. I feel at peace, restful in the presence of a God who never left me. Even when I resented Him. Even though there is so much I don't understand and wish didn't exist. I will always question. It's just who I am. I look at others who are in the midst of painful struggles and I wonder why God has brought us through the fog and not them. Yet...He did bring us through, and I think that's the point. Took waaay longer than I think it should, but I guess it was just long enough.
I have to throw my hands in the air and let out a belly-laugh. I didn't realize until this morning that I felt so free. That the smile that used to be my signature but left for a while is back. That I have hope for the future that was totally non-existent just a few short months ago. That God did this.
If you're still in the middle of some painful stuff, I wish I could offer you a formula to get out of it. But I can't. Cuz I didn't do this for myself. Last I checked I was still wallowing in my pain, alternately resolving to fight and giving up. I don't know how or when, but God came through. Just when I thought He never would and didn't care and to hell with it all anyway. I still keep pinching myself to see if I'll wake up from my peaceful rest to the tumult that I'm familiar with.
We're not even physically better off than we were at the beginning of 2010. But spiritually....God has given us abundant redemption. I have no idea what this year is going to hold. I'm a little nervous when I think about it. Maybe it is our Year of Hope. Hope that things will get better and that our love, which has outlasted a few storms, will only grow stronger.
Hind-sight is always 20-20 they say. I guess they're right. I wish I could've seen what I see now while still in the middle of the fog. But maybe I'll remember the next time the fog comes around.
2010. Our Year of Redemption. Abundant redemption. Who woulda thought?
"Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications...
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning--
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
~Excerpts from Psalm 130