It is with great thought and care that I write today’s entry. Well, more thought and care than usual, I suppose. Today is the start of a new year, and with the start of something new comes reflection and expectation. Can a year really be summed up in just a few short words? Can an upcoming year even be predicted? I hesitate to even write anything on the subject because I know that the answers to both those questions are negative. So much has happened in 2005, and there is so much to look forward to in 2006. But, seeing as I wouldn’t be much of a blogger without posting my year in review or whatever you want to call it, here I go with my best attempt at reflection.
2005 has seen so many changes in my life that I don’t know where to start. At this time last year, I was working at Quizno’s, I was back in BCC, and I was struggling with some issues that I knew I needed to deal with but didn’t want to. God was patiently teaching me that I needed to rely on Him instead of my own strength, and that above all, He wanted my heart. It wasn’t about the number of people I talked about God with, or how well I sang worship songs; it was all about the reason why I did those. It was all about my love for Him, and without that, nothing else mattered. Well, time went on, and my relationship with God grew stronger. June rolled around, and graduation loomed at my doorstep. Here it was: a momentous time in my life, and also a turning point. It meant that new things were just on the horizon, but also that friendships I had gained over the years must be let go of – not entirely, of course, but I wasn’t going to be able to see them every day like before. Graduation was a time when my thoughts were spinning around my head and my feelings were mixed like food in a blender. I needed time to just sort things out, and many of those times were spent right here on my blog. I spewed out my thoughts to anyone who would read them, and even if no one ever looked at it, I at least got them out of my head to sort them into some kind of order.
Summer arrived, and with it came a new wave of mixed emotions. God began to teach me once again to rely on Him as I tried and tried again, each time unsuccessfully, to find a job. Perhaps I didn’t learn my lesson well enough the first time, or perhaps He just wanted me to be patient so that He could set all the right events into motion. Whatever the reason, I learned in some small way the meaning of patience – and also frustration. I sent out over thirty resumes, and received few calls back. I had a few interviews, but nothing ever came out of them until the one at Cineplex. God certainly works in mysterious ways, because the theatre was definitely not at the top of my list of places to work at. But, by that time, I was desperate for anything, and so I took the job. Perhaps God had something to teach me in those gloomy hallways with ugly carpet. Perhaps He still does. Or perhaps it was simply to make sure that He had a representative in the place that so often has images of our disgusting, depraved society. But who can know the mind of God? All I know is that He opened up the door for my employment there, and so I took it.
And of course, how could I forget Melissa? The whole situation started probably back sometime in May, and just progressed from there. It was great – she was a Christian, a wonderful person, and I already knew she liked me. How could things possibly go wrong? Things worked for a while, and then her birthday came. I asked her mom for permission to ask her out, and in that brief instant where I thought that something could come of it, she shot me down. Of course, I don’t hold anything against her, because it was her decision to make, but it was still a disappointment. Melissa and I developed our friendship, and although we still were technically “going out” (although her mom had said we couldn’t “date”), it was more of just a close friendship than anything else. And it worked for a while. I had a lot of great times, and never regretted any of it. But, all good things must come to an end, and although I feel that perhaps it could have been prevented, it was with heavy hearts that we parted ways. What did God teach me in that time? He taught me that, above all else, I needed to keep my focus on Him. Even though I was in a situation where it was so easy to let a great person come into my view, I wasn’t going to go down that road again. I had been down there once, and once was more than enough. I learned that a relationship is only worth something if God is at the forefront of it, leading it on. Otherwise, it’s just waste of time. So I made sure to keep my eyes on Him, and anything else came second.
September rolled around, and with it came the new school year. Oh, what a horrible first couple of weeks that was, as I wandered around the hallways of North Park, confused and miserable. I was just thankful that I already knew a few people there that I could hang out with and who could sort of show me around as well. Still, until I got used to the new atmosphere, I had a horrible time. Things just were so different, and I had a hard time adjusting. However, the situation was destined to get better, and as each day passed by, I found myself enjoying it more and more. People ask me now which I like better – BCC or North Park – and I just don’t have an answer for them. Both have their pros and cons, and both have their excitements and challenges. Do I miss BCC? Of course. Do I enjoy North Park? For sure. But comparing them to each other is like comparing apples and oranges. All I know is that BCC was part of God’s plan for me for four years of my life. And now, His plan is for me to be at North Park. Beyond that, I’m in His hands, and I know that I can conquer anything with Him on my side. It’s not a matter of what’s better; it’s a matter of where you’re supposed to be. Any place you’re in will be better if you’re inside God’s will. If, however, you’re on the outside, be prepared to have some difficulties.
Now, as this year has wound down to a close, I find myself in a strange position. Somewhere in the past couple of months, my strength began to just slowly wane, and God began to get distant – or, more accurately, I began to get distant from God. Things just weren’t going well, and with the busy Christmas season, I found myself putting God on hold. It was a rocky ride for a while, and there were a few times when I felt like giving up and just going my own way. I was so tired of trying to hold on to Him while at the same time I held on to what the world had to offer. I wanted to let go of the world, but it seemed that my hand just wouldn’t respond. The situation I found myself in just wasn’t pretty. And then, at the New Year’s Eve’s Eve service, I realized what my only option was. After all, with all God has done for me and with all I’ve seen Him do, how could I let go of Him? It just wasn’t possible. But with one hand holding onto Him and the other hand holding onto the world, I was stretched too far, and I knew I had to drop one. So, at that New Year’s Eve’s Eve, as the speaker talked about a new year with new purposes and new goals, I told God that I was His. I told Him that if it was the last thing I would ever do, I was going to let go of what I clung so dearly to and hold on to Him instead.
If 2005 was a learning year, where I learned primarily that my trust must be in God and not in anything else, then 2006 will be the testing year, where what I have learned and will continue to learn must be put into practice. Only time will tell what the future holds, but if things go as I’ve planned (which I’m not entirely sure that they will), university is coming up and into my life with the force of hitting a brick wall at a high velocity. It will be a tumultuous time, but if I put what I’ve learned into practice, then God will be the firm ground that I’ll hold onto. He’ll be the foundation that I dig my stake into. He’ll be the one who will pick me up each countless time that I fall, and He will be the one that will show me that, in spite of everything I’ve done, He loves me more than anything. He loved me enough to die for me. And I don’t want that to be a death without meaning, a waste of time for Him. I want to make that death worth His while.
And so, my New Year’s resolution is to go deeper in my walk with God. As I prayed two nights ago, I want the joy back that I had last year. I want the joy that I had as I dove as deep as I could into the relationship I had with God. And as I break the restrictive shackles that still hold me down even know, I know that it will return. He’ll be faithful, as He always is. Joy is part of His character, and as we get to know Him, we experience the joy that surpasses our circumstances and fills us with the deepest desire within us – the desire to worship the God who created us and loved us enough to send His only Son to die for us. Yes, 2006 is going to be a good year. It is, after all, entirely up to us and the attitude we take toward it.