ENDING AND STARTING, PART 2
January 2, 2019
Last week we began to talk about the necessity of letting go of the disappointments and failures of 2018 in order to move forward into 2019. God will always take the things we assumed were setbacks and use them to set us up for a better future than we thought possible. As 2019 begins, you have to consciously decide to let go of self-pity and disappointment. You have to quit thinking God has forgotten you or let you down. Believe what His Word says. God says that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Believe that He is leading and guiding you even when you don’t see it.
Perhaps your disappointment was actually devastating. Someone died. A period of grief and heartbreak is appropriate and normal, but you can’t let it turn into a lifetime of heartbreak and grief. At some point you have to be able and willing to say, “God, this person I loved so dearly has died. But that doesn’t mean your plan for my life has died. I am going to trust You. I know You are still leading me.”
As you move into 2019, as you start this new year, you need to realize God does not always lead in a straight line. He doesn’t always go from A to B. Sometimes God will take you from A to B, all the way to T, and then back to D, and then to V, and then to F, and then to Z. We do much better when we quit trying to make sense of it all, and we just follow. You may never figure out why, but God has promised to direct your steps.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived besides Jesus, said, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things.” God generally tells us things on a “need to know” basis. If God knows you need to know why, He will tell you. But if He doesn’t reveal it, leave it alone. We have to accept the fact that there will be unanswered questions, and we must not go through life trying to figure it out. Everything is not going to fit perfectly into our plans or even our theology. But you can always rely on who God is. God is great. God is good. God is generous. God is kind. God is just. God loves me.
That's a very powerful way to live. We can usually deal with things when we think they make sense. It’s when we can’t figure things out that we get in trouble. When I can’t figure it out, it helps me to do what my friend Verla used to say: “I always carry a bag in my mind, my bag of ‘I don’t understand’ things. When something troubles me, I put it in the bag and trust God with it. When I get to heaven, I’ll ask Him if I still need to know. Right now, I just trust Him.” Verla is with the Lord right now. I am sure there’s nothing left in her bag!
When things make no sense to you in 2019, trust God. Put it in your “I don’t understand bag,” and leave it alone. I have heard, “Don't put a question mark where God has put a period,” and it is great advice for 2019. If you have planned, done your best, prayed, and it didn’t turn out, put a period and move on. It’s a new season. The old season is over. Move into a new future. God still has plans and power for you. Your story with God will never end in defeat. God’s Word says He always causes you to triumph.
King David had a newborn baby that was very sick and close to death. For seven days and seven nights David fasted and prayed while laying on the floor. He was so intense that his soldiers tried to help him, they were so worried. But he wouldn’t hear it. He wouldn’t get up. On day seven the baby died. The men were terrified. They were so concerned for David. They were afraid to tell him. “If he was so bad when the baby was sick, what will he do since the baby has died?”
But when David heard the news he got up off the ground, went home, took a shower, put on clean clothes, got something to eat, and went to the temple and began to worship. His men were blown away. David explained, "When the baby was alive I prayed for God to heal him. But now that he is gone I cannot bring him back. He will not come to me, but one day I will go to be with him.”
David was reacting in health and faith. He was saying, “I will turn the page and go into a new chapter. God put a period here. I'm not going to put a question mark. I prayed. I believed. I fasted. I did everything I could, but it didn't work out so I'm going to let it go. I am going to go on with life.”
Despite every hurt and disappointment, that’s how you need to start 2019. Your car has a huge windshield in the front and a tiny rear-view mirror. It’s the same in your life What’s in your future is much bigger and more significant today than what is in your past. Where you are going is much more important than where you've been. But if you stay focused on the past you'll get stuck right where you are.
In Psalm 131 David said, “I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for his mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—now and always.” What incredible advice! As you close the door on 2018 and head into 2019, quiet and still your soul. Calm yourself down. Hope in the Lord.
As you start 2019, why don't you focus your hope and trust in the Lord? Let go of the frustration of having to have it your way. Let go of the whys of life. Put those unanswered questions in your "I don't understand it"bag. You can start 2019 free and joyful, with a calm and quiet soul. Who you are and what you care about matters to God. He is committed to helping you be and do every great thing He has designed for you. This is your year. Let go, and then step up and be it.