Reflecting on 2019 my mind is a jumbled mess of roller-coaster emotions. My Type-A focus unexpectedly dashed and disrupted forced me to slow down and navigate this unwelcome path.
This year propelled me up some high peaks, like: signing with a publisher to write and (eventually) release my first book, delivering a message God has laid on my heart to my first audience at a speaking engagement, and the most humbling experience of being featured three times in national magazines for my story of healing!
And this year dragged me down to the lowest of the valleys while I literally sobbed on the living room floor because of fear on this sudden twist in the path of my journey. These lows weigh heavy on my heart and mind. I’ve kicked physical and mental heaviness to the curb over the past few years, I’m determined to take these lessons learned and face this uphill battle running into 2020.
This morning I sat down with my brewed cup of coffee beans (always heavenly!) and asked the Lord to please SUM up my year and give me something to carry into the new year. A reminder. A new perspective. A promise. Anything–just give me something to settle this heavy heart and mind.
In His steadfast love, He delivered an answer to this plea through my study of Isaiah chapter 63 today.
Isaiah 63:8-9 (NIV–emphasis mine)
He said, “Surely they are my people,
children who will be true to me”;
and so he became their Savior.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.
What I gleaned this morning from the chapter is a little jumbled up, just like my thoughts lately! First, verses 8 and 9 jumped out at me.
In these two verses God reminded me He is always with me. In MY distress, He TOO is distressed for me. And because He loves me so much, He became my Savior. In His love and mercy He redeemed me. I am overwhelmed by the many times He LIFTED me out of the pit and carried me to a firm place to stand (see Psalm 40, too!). I can’t even count the times He has lifted me out of the pit this year.
Sometimes He sends His followers to do some of this heavy lifting. My lowest day, my pastor’s wife (a dear friend) arrived on my doorstep and helped me get up off the floor. She allowed me to cry, she listened, and she encouraged me to stand back up. Her obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit poured into my life and I’ll never forget that moment. I haven’t been sprawled on the living room floor since then.
I could write a book about all the low valleys of 2019 and maybe someday I will. In the meantime, just trust me when I tell you this is someone’s amazing ONLY GOD story to be shared in His perfect timing. Because I am claiming victory over the despair of 2019 for my loved one. All of us involved are full of focus and faith for miraculous favor as we step into 2020.
Backing up a bit into 2019, God has been laying the word vision on my heart for several months now. Starting back when I had my first of two eye surgeries in May 2019. I had to have a repeat surgery in July 2019 because the first result was not good. I was devastated. The first surgery was stressful (come to find out they didn’t give me enough anesthesia)! As I faced the second surgery, I kept asking God “what is it you want me to SEE?” And the word vision remains in my mind.
Moving forward into 2020, here we go, into a new decade! I’m sure #Vision2020 or #2020Vision is trending on Twitter today. Twenty-twenty vision means I can see clearly. I’d like to say this is where I am right now. I am far from this because I know He has much to teach me. But what I do know through today’s chapter in Isaiah is that God will never stop LIFTING me up and CARRYING me through the trials. As I reflect back on 2019, I can SEE this, friends.
Returning to Isaiah 63, as a result, my heart overflows with praise and I echo the sentiments of this verse:
Isaiah 63:7 (NIV–emphasis mine)
I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
the deeds for which he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
he has done for Israel,
according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
Through some darkness in 2019, God continued to bless me with many good things in the most unexpected ways. A book contract. Sharing His joy in national publications. These many good things are still unbelievable to me! Just pinch me!
This morning, as I sat with my Bible and beans, things became so clear. God showed up in our quiet time and shared with me:
A reminder. He gave me a miraculous story of healing and has placed a heavy calling on my heart to share hope. I’ve lost focus and my own hope the past year. It’s time to fix my focus. He has specifically called me to write and speak hope, and I will stop hiding in my struggles and step back on the path as He continues to guide.
A new perspective. I didn’t ask or ever expect this side-jaunt on my journey, but I’ll cling to the perspective He is always in control. The consistent theme in all my bible studies the past two years provides the foundation for my new perspective; God is in control. Knowing this provides and strengthens a new attitude through these difficult seasons. The only reason I am still standing after this year is through this gift of a new perspective in Him. If these challenges would’ve surfaced just a mere three years ago, I know I would’ve been knocked down and dragged out and hidden in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. It’s impossible to fully express my thankfulness for a renewed mind and healthy emotions. These are truly a brand new perspective in my life.
A promise. I’ll repeat the promises from verses 8 and 9. God promises He is always with me, He lifts me up, and He carries me over these rocky paths. And He empathizes with my distress. He feels my heartbeat. How amazing.
Do I need anything else when I have this Savior? I don’t need anything, but I want to respond by doing everything!
Echoing verse 7 above, yes, the many good things He has done for me prompt me to tell of the kindness of the Lord. The deeds for which He is to be praised. According to His compassion and many kindnesses. Just like verse 9 suggests, I want to be true to this Savior and constantly thank Him for this steadfast love.
Looking back over the unexpected twists and turns of 2019, I can honestly say with my heart full of intentionality and gratitude–BRING on a new astonishing era of more UNEXPECTED. Give me the words to write and a voice to speak with clarity and boldness. For His glory. Amen.
If you’ve been through a difficult, discouraging, desperate 2019, I’d love to hear your perspective. What has God taught you? What verse or word of faith has brought you through? Are you ready for a new era? Drop your comments below!