We are two days away from the beginning of a new year. One of my New Year's resolutions is to read through the Bible. It seems to be the only resolution I manage to keep.
I also spend time looking back at my prayer journal that I have kept for the past 12 months. It is very interesting to see the adventure that unfolds just living life from day to day. If one were to draw it out in graph form, it would look like some engineers layout for a theme park roller coaster. Lots of ups and downs and loops as well as moments of smooth sailing.
One of our traditions at the beginning of the year, is to choose a scripture from a "Promise Card" holder. Some years, the scripture I pull is exciting and comforting and some years, a mystery. This year was one of those mystery cards. My scripture was Psalm 16:8, "I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." The prayer that was prayed over me was "Resist the devil and he will flee. Find my 'security' in Christ". I did not really understand what this meant until we hit the beginning of March when the rug was pulled out from under my feet. Literally!
In the middle of the night on March 6th, I was awaken by the Lord. I heard as clear as I've ever heard His voice say, "You have to go through this, but don't worry, I am going to be with you all the way." For the next two days I questioned the Lord asking Him what it was I was having to go through. On March 8th we were told that the owner of the home that we were living in was having to sell it. At first, this seemed to be fine as we felt this was the Lord giving us the opportunity to buy our own home. I jumped in with a heart full of faith believing that by the time Easter arrived, we'd likely be moving into our own place. There were hundreds of houses listed so this shouldn't be a very difficult process. Our rental home sold within one month after being listed.
As we began the process, we did find we had limitations, but it didn't seem too difficult until we actually put in our first offer. That was when we realized this process was not going to be that easy. This wide open door for opportunity began to shut, little by little. By the time we hit July we had put in 17 offers that had all been rejected. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I sat in my closet, crying and asking the Lord, what was going on. How could it be so hard for us to find a home?
The summer thermometer began to rise along with challenges we were facing. By the time we hit the end of July, we had to move so that our kids would have time to register for school, not to mention the new owner of the home we were in, was ready to move into his new house. It seemed as though every day was faced with a cement wall, that we had to knock down before we could take the next step. I know this might seem dramatic, but I can truly say that is what it felt like.
As I read through the chronological Bible this year and Jeff taught through the Bible this year, it seemed every week we experienced what we read. There were moments we prepared ourselves for what was coming because of how it lined up with God's Word. My daily devotions became my life preserver for the storms that we were facing. I truly believe, as my scripture says that He is at my right hand, was my commitment to read His Word every day. His Word is the anchor that keeps me from getting lost and tossed when the winds and waves come.
Reflecting back on 2010, I can honestly say this year has been the year my faith has been challenged and stretched. More than any other in my life. If anything, I sit here at this computer writing this entry, feeling much like Peter must have felt when Jesus called him out of the boat (Matthew 14:28-30). Peter even asked Jesus to call him out of the boat. Right there shows that Peter started out with great faith. Just like I did as I took my first steps into 2010. But once his feet crossed over the security of the wooden structure he was in, into the unstable, liquid, that scientifically says is impossible to stand on, not to mention the darkness out there on the lake, fear crept in. He probably couldn't see Jesus either due to the darkness. This picture sounds so familiar to where I am standing today. It was so important for Peter to have recognized Jesus' voice when he was blinded by the darkness of night. This is why I would encourage you, if you have never committed to reading through the Bible, why you should. This is how you hear and recognize His voice when you have to step into the dark sea of faith.
The conclusion to these two verses says that Peter began to sink because he was afraid. I can't tell you how many times this year, I have sunk into my fear, but Jesus has been there to pull me up at each sinking. I can't go back to the boat now and we still have a ways to go before we reach the shore. Hopefully, it won't be much longer before we find a home. I feel more like Jesus is leading me step by step on the sea of faith to show me how important is is for me to hold on to His hand. He is leading my family and me on a path that only He knows the way. As long as I choose to follow him there will always be water underneath my feet and it will always be dark before me. That is why I listen closely to His voice leading me. And I can only do that by reading His Word. But as long as I keep walking with Him, I can always look back and catch the reflection in the water of the boat from where I started. I can see how far I've walked since the day I stepped in.
I hope you will take some time over the next few days to reflect on 2010 and see how far Jesus has taken you since you stepped onto the path of faith. If you find that you are still inside the security of the boat, let me encourage you to climb over the side. You won't be alone because there are several of us out here. Make this your 2011 resolution, to read through His Word. His desire is for you to recognize His voice and hold His hand, especially when it's dark.