We are nearing the end of the year.
And what a full year it has been. I have so much for which to be thankful. More than I could possibly express in these pages.
I have tasted and seen the goodness of my God. (Ps. 34:8)
A few months ago, I stumbled across this song by Rita Springer called Defender. I heard it one night and ended up on my knees in worship. The lyrics captured so much of what I’d experienced in my walk with Jesus these past months.
If there were an anthem for this year, I think this song may well be it.
I watched Jesus come through in the midst of seemingly impossible situations. And as the song says, all I did was bow down (which actually looks a lot like ducking for cover!).
All I did was stay still.
In the midst of one of the most challenging and beautiful, painstaking and rewarding years of my life, Jesus invited me to stay still.
And I watched him deliver me into a land flowing with milk and honey. I was led up from the dry wilderness.
But it looked different than I expected.
Therefore, I will now allure her. I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards. And I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope. (Hosea 2:14-15)
It is the place of letting go – of shedding.
In the wilderness, we will throw off everything that hinders (Heb. 12:1).
We will make room.
We will make room to receive.
God gave beautiful treasures this year, some in the most surprising ways.
- He surrounded me with companions for the journey. Friends and family who were walking through similar seasons of transition. (I started warning folks that hanging with me might mean you’d soon be quitting your job, moving or starting a business!).
- Jesus brought the most exceptional women to be a part of our first Cohorts. All the while opening new doors for me to use my voice through speaking, preaching and writing.
- We celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday this year – a legacy of faithfulness to a life of intercession and following Jesus wherever he leads – with a lovely Caribbean cruise.
- I dusted off my master’s degree and started consulting (another incredible story of God opening doors). Such a sweet and unexpected surprise to remember how much I love OD Consulting.
- We welcomed my newest little niece, Genevieve, into the world (she’s naturally a bundle of absolute perfection).
- I fell in love with writing again. I’d forgotten how much I love to write. We made space to write this year.
- God provided me with a new sacred space to meet with him. And of course, it is far better than anything I could have asked or imagine. I wrote about it in Find Me Here.
The valley of trouble is becoming a door of hope.
Those are the treasures along the way. They are undoubtedly precious, but they are not themselves the treasured land of milk and honey. Rather, signposts that it is near.
The treasures returned to us in the wilderness are signposts.
They lead us to the treasure-keeper.
But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her. I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone, and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back. (Hosea 2:14 VOICE)
He speaks right to our heart – and we ponder these words.
We have found the Treasure.
And there is no turning back.
Not for the gifts.
Not for any other thing.
He has won us.
The Valley of Trouble has become a door of hope.
The moment when we have nothing left – when Jesus is our only option – we discover the door of hope.
It is Jesus.
It is communion with him.
It is and always will be – his presence.
In that day, declares the Lord,
You will call me ‘my husband’.
You will no longer call me ‘my master’. (Hosea 2:16)
It is the most amazing thing – the lengths to which the Lord will go to express his desire for us.
He does not desire servants looking to a master’s hand. He desires communion. To be together, to be with one another for no other reason than shared presence.
At the end of this year, my heart is full.
Of all of the beautiful gifts he gave me.
Of the way he defended me.
Of the anthem that he gave me coming out of the wilderness.
Hallelujah, you have saved me.
So much better this way.
Hallelujah, Great Defender.
So much better this way.*
And right there in the valley of trouble, I received the greatest gift of all – more and more of himself.
Jesus, our doorway of hope.
Happy New Year, dear friends! May your year be full of rejoicing.