Another year completed!
Another 365 days filled with the all-embracing moments of what truly makes a year complete.
From the fresh scent of holding a newborn baby,
to the arrival of a stunning bride at the threshold to meet her awaiting groom,
to the slow and final promenade of one you have come to call “cherished” offering my final farewell…
These are the foundational moments in my year that made it complete.
You may ask, why these three events?
These three events represent the arc of a life and they remind us of life’s beginnings, middles, and ends.
When experienced within a year, they each help to bring focus and perspective to the cycles of a lifespan measured by distance and relationship to the sun. The perpetual orbit, which marks the seasons and completion of a year and the beginning of a new.
When we are able to participate in and celebrate these events during a year, we are invited to reflect on God’s very nature—His Joy.
For it is within these three celebrations experienced in community that we discover the divine nature of “God’s joy”…
- New life on Earth
- New life in relationships
- New life in Heaven
Experienced not as the animal kingdom does in their circle of life, but as humans with the understanding of God’s sovereignty, purpose, and divine pleasure.
A complete year is marked by the renewed hope for tomorrow found in the face of a sleeping baby, fulfilled hope for today found in the promises made in marriage covenant love, and realized hope for eternity as we celebrate a life worthy of our reflection and respect.
Each event disrupts our daily routines and urges us to pause and be mindful to discover and rediscover the true essence of God’s perfect “joy.”
When we are invited to share in all three within a year, we experience the arc of a complete life in the reflection of God’s perfect love for His creation…
- Love called my name
- Love called me to embrace
- Love called me home
In reality, these three events also carry within them the potential for sorrows and unfulfilled expectations. A child born with birth defects or stillbirth, relationships based on “happiness for the moment” and not “sacred promises,” and a loss of life without relationship with Jesus Christ.
These too reflect the truth of our own humanity. It is in these hard realities of brokenness and disappointment that we discover our lack of power to release our own resentments and regrets; our inability to “make” someone love and follow Jesus.
It is when I encounter these hard realities that also make up a complete year, that I find myself walking through the valley of tears.
It is only in my relationship with Jesus Christ that I have found a love greater than my sorrows, which sets me free from my anger, bitterness, and disappointment.
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. John 16:20
These words of Jesus remind me to allow God to right these wrongs in His time, in His place.
Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:22
Over the years, I have discovered that if I do not first forgive, first love, first embrace, I will miss out on the joys and celebrations God places before me each day. The opportunities to care for the needy, to love unconditionally, to live sacrificially.
Scripture tells me that I am made in God’s image…and in His mercy and grace I have come to learn that God himself is the “happiest of beings” and “joy is His character.”
So why isn’t joy my first response to some of life’s circumstances?
For it is His joy that gives me strength (Nehemiah 8:10), His joy that allows me to love, and His joy that brings meaning to my life.
Yes, 2018 has been a complete year!
Embracing joy as I’ve been blessed to hold my niece’s newborn baby; observing a dear friend’s daughter’s new covenant relationship in marriage love; and mourned the loss of a beloved friend while being reminded of the hope of new life in Heaven through Jesus Christ.
As I pray for the year ahead, my heart’s desire is that it too will be a complete year.
Filled with all of God’s purposes for my life, for our world, and for those I love.
Filled with the hope of building community through developing friendships and gracious invitations, celebrating the precious new life around me.
And acknowledging that this new year will also contain loss….of cherished ones, of disappointing realities….and of dreams unfulfilled.
But through it all…I will hold onto Joy and be blessed that He knows my name!
Some of the ways that you can make 2018 a complete Year…
- Help a new mom in your community with meals, childcare, house-cleaning.
- Volunteer in a neonatal unit to help care for newborn babies.
- Help out at a local boys and girls club.
- Write an encouraging note to someone God has placed on your heart.
- Mentor a young couple as they prepare for their new life together as a married couple.
- Place the baby announcement, wedding invitation, or memorial service notice on an open Bible in your home and pray daily for those they represent.
- Take a meal to a family walking through the steps of grief after a loss.
- Plan a fun day for a friend living with a terminal disease.
- Stop long enough to talk with someone God brings into your day who needs to rediscover joy and hope in their life.
- Spontaneously perform simple acts of kindness during your daily routine.
Happy Complete Year!
INVEST IN YOUR GOD-GIVEN GIFTS AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
Your Gifts: Spiritual Gifts Discovery
God created you with purpose and passion—learn how you can take the gifts He has given you and use them to advance His Kingdom in ways you never imagined.
Here are more free articles, excerpted from the book Your Gifts shown above, one for each of the nine Team Ministry Spiritual Gifts…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?