Two years ago, this week, I was surrounded by darkness, I was in a fog of hopelessness and had to force myself to get out of bed. Previous to that week, although I was saved, my relationship with Jesus was on my terms and therefore not what it should be. I had to be in control, and was unyielding to His sovereignty over my life. In the past I have used the analogy that I was like a house, that each wall had been demolished and rebuilt one at a time as I would go through a trial and reluctantly, and unhappily, give that area over to Christ. But my foundation was still just as cracked and unstable as when I started. He wasn’t my foundation, as I had made that my independence and my delusion of control.
Yet I knew something needed to change. That Christmas Eve I reflected on why I loved the Christmas season so much since becoming a Christian. Due to family being away or sick, I spent the evening by myself attending my church candlelight service and then watching Jesus of Nazareth by the lights of my Christmas tree. It gave me time to think. I realized that the reason I loved the Christmas season so much was because I had made Jesus the focus of my life in some aspects during that time. I was more intentional about my relationship with Him, although I now see how I was placing it on my terms. My Christmas tree had been decorated with ornaments that either told something about Jesus, about myself, or about my relationship with Jesus, therefore I decided I was keeping my tree up for the entire year as a reminder to stay focused on Him. It seems silly now, but I see how it was my independent and desperate attempt to hold on to even a little of that Christmas feeling. I wanted more of Him, I just didn’t know how to get it, and still maintain control.
Clearly, Jesus’ plan to keep my focus on Him was very different than mine. At the time, I would have not said it was superior to my way, as I was in the depths of despair, but now I see His faithfulness and goodness in it. I had to be broken. I had to be demolished down to my cracked and unstable foundation so that I could be rebuilt on Him.
While I do recount that time in a writing project that is almost complete (and God-willing will be available in some form this year), let me just explain that it wasn’t solely the catalyst event that broke me. It was in my heart wanting more of Jesus and because of the event, and the lies the enemy was feeding me about it, feeling rejected and unloved by God. The lie was that Christ had never wanted me, never loved me, and I had deluded myself into believing He did or ever could, that this event showed His not protecting me, His indifference to me. I was beat down. I was broken. This time of being at the bottom of the pit, thankfully, only lasted a week before God broke through with His truth and showed the lies for what they were. Then it was a slow climb out of the pit, but then I was willing to start climbing. I could muster some strength after that.
Rose Marie Miller writes, in Nothing is Impossible with God, “Nothing is impossible with God. I had always heard this, but for a long time it didn’t seem true for me. For much of my life kept God at a distance, building walls of self-protection and self-reliance. I said I was a Christian, but my life said, “I can manage without God.” When crises came, the walls went higher. But there came a day when building walls did not work and I was left with, “I don’t believe God exists, or if He does exist, He is a dark cloud over my life- a cloud of fear, guilt, condemnation, and loneliness.” Into this dark cloud God spoke, not with an audible voice, but with life-giving words.”
I love this passage of her writing because it is like she is telling my story. The last two years during this anniversary, if you will, I have reflected back to what Jesus has done in my life since then. It is hard to believe how He has changed my life since that time, the way He has produced growth through relationship with Him. I will always be a work in progress, but I can see areas where He has changed my heart for what breaks His, I can see how He truly is my foundation now, and I can see how He has used His fruit in my life to direct me to His plan for my life. His faithfulness was there even when I was not faithful and tried to keep him at arms-length. His goodness was there even in allowing events to take place that would break me and ultimately bring me closer to Him. I can see how He allowed only enough to do what was necessary, not more than enough as discipline of which I deserved.
I do not reflect back every year to live in the past, but instead to reflect back in worship of His character and His love.