My mind disfigured your face in my mind, Painted piercing eyes, uncompassionate, Shaming, in place of those you said I’d find. My view of you and you were disparate Persons, known too well and not well enough. “You” imposed a self-imposed prison cell, Held hopeless standards, always called my bluff. I was always guilty, not free, unwell. Thus I assumed from this false gospel, lie Of law’s freedom. Truth is not so broken. You are love. Your yoke brings rest, peace, a sigh Of relief, rooted in words you’ve spoken: “I have overcome the world.” Now I see Your overcoming work extends to me.
I’ve gotten some good rest this weekend. I ate breakfast at Chick-fil-A (always good). Some artists I love released some new music. Leicester City lost (sad, but normal). All is as it should be.
Also, I’m turning 32.
In some ways, this feels like the first time in my life I’ve got a decent handle on things. I’ve got a better understanding of my health, mentally, spiritually, and physically, and I feel better equipped to manage those areas well. I’ve got a consistent work schedule that allows me room for rest and for study. I’m taking steps academically both in the pursuit of a degree and professionally. I’m in a healthy relationship, and we’re learning how to love each other well day by day. On many levels, things are going well.
In other ways, life feels out of control. The holiday season was full of travel, sickness, and tension in relationships. Finances continue to be a source of stress. Changes in job situations and church families, while not bad things in and of themselves, make life feel different and bring new challenges. On top of these, the future remains unknown, and the uncertainty can feel threatening at times.
I’ve never been one to have detailed plans for the future, so I can’t say I had any expectations for my thirties. I’ve written before that life up to this point hasn’t necessarily looked like I thought it might, but it’s not as if I had a set path in mind that’s been thrown off by my actual experience. Rather, some doors have closed that I thought might stay open while others have opened that I didn’t expect. In some cases, doors I thought I’d never see open again have opened, with blessings beyond any I could have imagined.
Still, the future can feel overwhelming at times, in spite of all the ways the Lord has proven faithful so far. Maybe that’s why Joshua chapter 1 proved such an encouragement to me this weekend. There, God speaks to Joshua in preparation for Israel’s entrance into the promised land. Moses, the legendary leader, has died, and Joshua now stands in his place. Joshua has seen the rebellious nature of the people, the burden of leadership, and the immensity of the task before him. The weight, I’m sure, felt heavy. Yet God’s message to Joshua was not one of impossible standards or increased stress, but of encouragement.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
God meets Joshua with a reminder of his presence with him, giving him reason for strength and courage and peace. He didn’t have to fear or worry.
I don’t know what this next year holds for me. I have questions, fears, doubts, insecurities. I can easily grow overwhelmed. But I’m reminded that I belong to God, and God has not failed me yet. So I enter this year with hope in him, knowing that I need not fear or be dismayed.