I’m doing intentional reflecting on 2016. I’ve been convicted lately that I move on too quickly without pausing to reflect. Ok, let me be honest, pausing in general is tough for me. My friend Thomas George recently talked about the importance of journaling. He uses it to remember. Do we ever stop to think about how often in the Bible it tells us to remember? Journaling is about looking for God at work in your life. It’s about sensing a theme, paying attention, and stopping to remember. So today I cracked open my journal to remember. Before you put me on some sort of journaling pedestal let me say this, I journal sporadically. Most often I write while flying. If my heart is heavy I journal, if I’m elated I journal, if things are steady I don’t journal. 2016 kept my journal busy.
At the end of every year I feel like God gives me a word to cap the experience. I wish I had been writing down those words so I could remember (hence the desire to pause and reflect now). There has been “intentionality”, “trust”, “love”, and “faith” through the years. I think 2016 was the year for “obedience”. I feel a bit like a 5-year-old writing down that word. Obedience is something we learn as a kid and yet as an adult I still struggle with it. I opened up earlier this year about a tough season I was in. I’ll be honest, 2016 was gut wrenching in so many ways. I was betrayed by friends, I was thrown under the bus, I was ignored, I was under appreciated, I was hurt, I was angry, my health took a turn and I almost died, and one day in particular I was face down on my floor with sobs from the weight of it all. It was tough. And just when things began to steady out it became tough all over again, in a whole new way. Even writing this now, things are hard.
In the midst of the tough I knew deep in my spirit this was a “we’re in it for the long haul” kind of season. I knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. So where does obedience fit in in all of this? The kind of obedience God has been teaching me is deep. It’s the kind of obedience that listens to the Holy Spirit and then obeys. It’s the kind of obedience that has the hard conversations, that asks the tough questions, that steps into the fray fully knowing you won’t walk out unscathed. The kind of obedience that you know you need to take a roll of TUMS to enter into? Know what I mean? Am I the only one who prays, “Lord, calm my anxious stomach?”.
I hit a rather nasty birthday this year. Depending on who is reading this I either have my “whole life ahead” of me or I “look way younger” than I actually am. All that to say, it was not my favorite birthday. I am, however, finding some great beauty in the weathering that comes with age. 2016 was a year of the kind of obedience that comes with weathering. As all the ick hit the fan my confidence in Jesus didn’t waver. I knew I was simply to obey. In late May I went on retreat to the beach. I spent the first day sitting quietly so I could let the shock waves of the blows I had received dissipate. On the second day I ate a lot of ice cream. On the third day I was sitting on the beach watching the sunset when a pod of dolphins swam by. I’m a Florida girl at heart and dolphins are my favorite. I sat there watching them play and tearing up over God’s sweet grace. I felt God’s presence clearly in that moment. As if he came up behind me, gave me a hug, and whispered in my ear, “hang on, it’s not over yet. I am always near and you never walk alone. Hang on.”. Then the tears flowed down my face. The precious weathering of a long hard walk with Jesus where my only memories of his character are sure and steadfast and true. Where obedience is hard but obedience is the only choice. He knows me, I know him so I keep walking.
In many ways I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of what obedience looks like. The more I strive to be obedient that more I realize I’m called first to keep my ears tuned to the voice of my Jesus. I’m called to be in his word, participating in his story, and walking with him daily. Out of that obedience flows.
I took communion at church this morning. When I’m home my dad is my pastor. It’s easy to turn off your dad’s voice when you’re a pastor’s kid. His passion for Jesus and for the lost was clear today and I found myself so grateful to sit under his preaching. As I held the bread tears welled up in my eyes. The lyrics from this song (This is Our God by Travis Cottrell) echoed in my head,
This is our God, living and breathing,
Call Him courageous, relentless and brave.
This is our God, loving and reaching,
Scandalous mercy and mighty to save.
Hallelujah! This is our God!
Hallelujah! This is our God
Hallelujah! This is our God! Sing praise.
This is the God we serve. I was humbled under that realization this morning. This is our God and he chooses to love me. The beautiful kind of weathered obedience I’m called to is to walk in truth and into the sweet journey my God has laid out for me. I’m ready and willing. I’m in. Welcome 2017.
Hebrews 12:12-13 "So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong."
Passionate about the church and about kids, Melissa J. MacDonald travels extensively speaking, training, coaching, and consulting. With a fresh and unique perspective Melissa boldly calls the church to be The Church everywhere she goes. She’s been to over 30 countries and seeks out the best ethnic food in every city she visits. Melissa currently serves as the National Children’s Disciplemaking Specialist for the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Find out more at www.melissajmacdonald.com.