Just about anywhere you look, you’ll find the usual “year in review.” On television, network news in particular captures images of the incidents that made headlines; entertainment programs reflect upon the tangled lives of those in Hollywood, as well as trends that perhaps caught and sometimes dominated our attention; radio programs create mashups of the songs that either were “our jam” or ones that drove us crazy (I could insert a few, but I love you too much to give space for it to drive you insane); and finally, even Facebook provides the option to view your “year in review” memories with a visual collage of photos, as well as a collection of most “liked or commented” statuses. While we have little impact upon what television, radio and print elect to cover on their “year in review,” we do have control and influence upon what we decide to show through social media. Even though Facebook has so meticulously chosen images and statuses, I noticed that I had the ability, so to speak to select that which I desired to be on display as a compilation of my “year in review.” I had the power to highlight what I preferred, and ignore that which I’d elect to forget. As I pondered this practice, I wondered what might happen if I elected to honor a similar methodology as 2015 comes to an end. Let’s take a look…
A few of my highlights would include traveling to Rome, Paris, Florence, Barcelona and the outer banks of North Carolina; I ran several races, including two half marathons; I expanded staff in the workplace, I completed a few projects around the home, I continued working with our dance ministry at church, working with the prison ministry, and meeting new people that have taken up special residence in my heart and head. I could embellish each of these occurrences, as well as create my “year in review” comprised of challenging situations that ushered in tears, frustration, prayer and pain, including those while traveling, at home, in marriage, in ministry, work, dealing with our children, other family members, folks in my subdivision (especially the HOA) and yes, I hate to but must admit, “the church.” Nevertheless, those are the events that I learned the most about myself, coupled with the reality that there is still work to be done, and the burden falls upon me way more often than the perceived object(s) of my affliction. Those circumstances often did not pass quickly; they weren’t timed and they weren’t pretty. Some of them are not “completed” today and may very well carry over when the clock strikes midnight. Its easy to highlight what we prefer. Yet, this tendency does not fully embody a “year in review.” My history teacher, Mrs. Nettlesby would say, “We must study the past, to understand the present, and to make a better future.” As the year comes to a close, and if the Lord tarries, it is imperative to deconstruct the trials and tribulations experienced and to concurrently honor the hand and presence of God despite the calamity. For it is in the space of his grace, his covering, that make for the exceptionality that we are afforded and experience as his children.
You are certainly welcomed to create your own highlight reel, documenting what society might consider the “good parts,” however, the greater blessing for not only yourself, but for others who need to be encouraged is the expression of those difficulties that enabled greater prayer, greater faith and greater power! This year was particularly tougher than any other year in my memory financially. Further, it was the most challenging year that I’ve ever had professionally. Although I embraced running, there are many days when I chose not to get out of bed, or my recliner. I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have, and fell short of giving people and tasks the energy it needed. I was required to alter my food intake tremendously and the transition was harder than I imagined. So many people were prophesying healing, and yet the manifestation as we “two or three agreed” did not visit my doorstep. Was it my faith hindering it, or was it simply God’s will? Spending time and effort attempting to distinguish between the two takes a terrible toll on one’s mind and body. Further, I had to witness our children, both of whom are young adults develop their own relationships with the Master, independent of parental influence. On one hand, that is exciting and the result of answered prayer, and yet I also knew the enormity of what it means to proxy for self. Nevertheless, in all things give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:7)! I thank God that no matter what, he was ever constant, ever present, just as was promised in the Word of God (Deuteronomy 31:6).
God has not forgot. If he were to create a “year in review,” customizable to us, what would it entail? Would there be pictures of us helping others, empowering others, forgiving? Would it document a meta-analysis of how much we were committed to reading the Word, and how much time and effort we put into prayer? Would it demonstrate greater percentages of praise in advance of the blessing? Would it demonstrate even more significant percentages of praise when the blessing didn’t arrive in the form we expected? Was our worship up to par in relation to the number of breaths we were granted, the number of times we were kept while speeding and rushing from one place to another or the depth of our love for others even when they’ve hurt us? Better yet, should our “year in review” and God’s “year in review” of us simply state, “Thank you,” because we made it and we remain in a state of being to give God glory?!
I don’t know what you had to endure, but I know that you did! If you are reading this, what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good! Only God knows what the new year affords, but I promise, if we spend our time on praise and gratitude and love, we will receive more and be able to persevere through anything that we find ourselves facing. We can actually plan our “year in review” before the year begins. I intend to place God at the top of my list – I hope you’ll join me. Happy New Year In Review!