357 days ago, I wrote these words: "My overarching resolution for 2010 is not to reach some arbitrary level of achievement but rather to make progress." And then I I set out to make progress in my relationship with God, in my health, and in my work.
357 days ago, I declared that "if the only thing I accomplish in the next 12 months is to take one step closer in each of these areas, this year will have been a smashing success."
And now, 357 days later, I am left wondering how to describe the kind of success that far exceeds "smashing."
All week long, I've been searching for words to convey the magnitude of what has taken place this year. And in the end, I've settled on just one Word:
I won't deny the power of written resolutions and accountability to propel a person toward their goals. In fact, I daresay that writing that blog post 357 days ago became a driving force in much of what I did this year. But my goal was simply to make progress. To take one or two steps forward. To choose my direction and start heading that way.
And to be perfectly honest, I never intended to get very far.
You see, I'm pretty good at setting goals--although I'm still learning how to make them reasonable and achievable. I'm also pretty good at reaching goals. But the one thing I don't do well? Believe that I'm actually going to accomplish something
Perhaps that's because I don't want to get my hopes up for fear of being disappointed--by me, by God, by my circumstances. Or perhaps I'm still unable to see past my weakness to believe that God can accomplish something good in spite of what I lack.
Or perhaps it's something else.
I began this year with hope. Hope that I would move forward. Hope that I wouldn't end the year with another mountain of regrets. Hope that something, anything would change for the better.
But I was missing something important.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Yes, I hoped for a lot of things this year. But I was never sure of any of it. I didn't have faith that things would change, that I would change, or even that God would show up in the mess of my life.
How grateful I am for this promise:
If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)
The absence of my faith didn't scare God away, didn't keep Him from hovering over me, didn't stop Him from intervening on my behalf.
Because He's God. And God is faithful. Always. Even when I am not.
Truth be told, my faith has been gone for a while. Nearly two years, in fact. I regret the loss of my faith, regret the distance that has grown between God and me, regret the fading of my love for Him. But there is one thing I do not regret.
Only God remains.
No one can say that what has happened this year came a result of my strong faith, my fervent prayers, or my spiritual maturity. The miracles and the breakthroughs, the life changes and the heart changes--they were all God's.
Of course, they are always all God's.
But it is so easy for us to get in the way, to hinder His reflection in our lives, to think that perhaps we had a hand in bringing about some of the beauty from the ashes.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
For many months, my jar of clay hasn't been much of a jar at all. Just shards of pottery lying empty on the ground. And still He made His light shine forth, even brighter than before.
And then, to my wondrous amazement, He began tenderly putting the pieces back together.
This year has been full of more pain, more beauty, more darkness, and more Glory than I ever imagined it could be. Yes, 2010 was a year of making progress. But I didn't do it. He did.
And finally, finally, finally I can tell you my faith has returned.
Thank you, Jesus, for doing what I could not, for being faithful when I had lost all mine, for choosing to deliver me and show Yourself mighty, for turning my hope into faith and my ashes into beauty. May You alone receive the glory.