Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy (almost) New Year, friends! I can hardly believe 2016 is almost behind us. What a year this has been! I’m not typically one for New Year’s resolutions, but one thing I can say is that I’m going to commit myself to making 2017 great in every possible sense of that word. I want to live it fully. I want to experience new things and see new places. I want to make new friends. I want to know God more. I want to live in places of joy despite my circumstances.
Anybody want to journey there with me?
This past year was a year of incredible change for me and my family. We began the year with welcoming the most precious addition to our little family of two, making us the Wagner three. Our little man, Redford, has been a joy from day one, but also an enormous change that impacted every single part of our lives. A few months later, we packed up our things and moved from our very first home. The home we came home to after our honeymoon. The home within which we built the foundation of our marriage. The home we brought our son home to. A little over a month later, we moved yet again into our new home, with new walls within which we will build new memories. We changed jobs. We successfully hosted new ministry events. Change, change, change.
I’ve never really been one to buck at change, but I also have never experienced this many life-changing events all within one calendar year. I emerge from 2016 changed. Not quite sure yet if for the better, but I’m still a work in progress, right? You too? Good. Let’s just breathe a deep sigh of relief together on that one.
One more change this year that just occurred this past week is that for the first time in my life, we hosted Christmas at our house. Now, let me just give honor to whom it’s due, because my phenomenal husband gets all the credit on this one. He whipped up the most delicious meal, and the most I can claim is that I may have chopped a few vegetables. He’s just the best! Not only was that a change, but we decided to veer from the traditional Christmas cuisine and take a road perhaps less traveled. So, instead of ham, potatoes, and all the fixings, we made Mexican, and it turned out to be an incredible success! Needless to say, I believe our unorthodox move might just become our new tradition.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, for starters, sharing stories is fun. It’s encouraging. It can be inspiring. I know it is for me when I encounter someone else’s story. But there’s a much deeper reason why I share. As already mentioned, 2016 was a year of change, but perhaps what I left out is that it has been a year of incredible difficulty. Just about everything I knew to be constant and certain in my life changed this past year, most for the better, but changed nonetheless. And it’s been hard. It’s been difficult to adjust to the new “normal.” It’s been hard to understand at times how life could become so different so quickly. All of the things I used to be able to do with such ease and capability seem to be much more difficult to grasp these days.
Especially my time with the Lord.
While I can go on and on and offer every reason (valid or not) of why my time with Jesus has dwindled this past year, the reality is that every single one would simply fall flat. Bottom line: I need Jesus every hour. Bottom line: I cannot get through one day (successfully, that is) without Him. Bottom line: He is everything that I need.
So, to go extended periods of time without Him has depleted me more than you can imagine. I’ve been desperate to get back to where I once was with Him, to get back to the unlimited amounts of time I spent with Him at my kitchen table, unhindered, uninterrupted. Those days seem so long ago.
Then, something clicked on Christmas Day. As we sat around a table of food that was so far from traditional Christmas cuisine, at least for my family, it was as if God spoke to me through the carne asada. Ok, not really, but just go with me. While I ate what was unorthodox food for Christmas Day, I realized something I had been doing this whole year.
I have been assuming that time with God looks one way. Assuming that Bible study and devotions fit into a certain box, the walls of which I had constructed myself, not God. Assuming that anything less simply wasn’t good enough or acceptable to Him. Assuming, assuming, assuming.
Do you see where I’m going with this? I think that we, perhaps unaware, often approach God and relationship with Him with our neatly packaged traditions, when in fact, sometimes He’s just waiting to surprise us with the unordinary. What if we moved from our cemented, firmly fixed notions to a more flexible approach, giving God room and space to move how He most desires? What if we were surprised and thoroughly delighted with the outcome in ways we couldn’t have imagined? Just some food for thought (pun intended) for you to chew on as we wrap us this year and look forward into the next. How are you going to let God move in your life in 2017?
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17