Over the past few days, many if not all of us have looked back over the past year with all of its ups and downs, successes and failures, and we have looked into a new year that we hope is filled with endless possibility, hope, and the promise of a fresh start. We have set many goals and made resolutions to lose weight, get out of debt, run marathons, overcome addictions, and ultimately become a better version of ourselves. No matter how extraordinary 2013 was for any one of us, I presume that we all long for the beauty of a clean slate in one way or another.
In my reflections of 2013, the words “Thank you, Lord” spill over my lips. A lot happened for me last year, and although not all of it was how I would define good, I am thankful that the Lord saw me through every bit, and I rest assured that all of it was for the good. Opportunities to travel and teach women’s groups near and far filled my calendar. Change and newness characterized much of mine and my husband’s life these past twelve months. Close friendships were deepened, and new friendships were formed. We were witness to the end of some relationships, while others continue the struggle for survival through betrayal and pain like I’ve never known. New life was brought forth while countless others took their final breath. Heartbreaking diagnoses were given to many while others overcame theirs. Acquaintances became friends. Friends became believers. Families suffered tremendous losses, and loved ones passed on. What a year it has been.
As I look back over the days and weeks and months that somehow blended into a year, I can only say, “Thank you, Lord.” It was Jesus Christ who saw me safely through it all. Not every single difficulty or issue was resolved at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, but newness came flooding into our lives in that moment. A new day, and a new year…without fear. I must confess that far too much of my last year was influenced by fear. I had many firsts and many disappointments. I had many mountain top experiences along with some times spent in deep valleys. Fear tried to find me and follow me wherever I went. However, January 1, 2014 came with a new conviction for me. I refuse to live my life in fear any longer. I refuse to let fear define me and influence the decisions I make. I choose faith. I choose courage. I choose hope in Christ, the Lord. Whatever God has called me to, He is able to accomplish in and through me. I have no reason to fear. My responsibility is to be faithful and obedient to whatever and whomever Jesus calls me to. And that is your responsibility as well.
God’s Word instructs us to fear one thing: God Himself.
“Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.” Deuteronomy 6:13
This is not “I’m afraid of the dark” kind of fear or a scary movie kind of fear. This is a reverence, an awe, a humility. This is a “God is God, and I am not” mentality. I choose to embrace 2014 as a new year without fear, a year for growth and new life. In fact, my word for 2014 is “GROWTH”. Personal growth, family growth, ministry growth, church growth. I eagerly anticipate what God will do in 2014, and I choose to step into it without fear.