However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24 NIV)
It was the last day of 2019. A new year was coming- a whole new decade! 2020. It was going to be the best year ever.
Did anyone else think about that when they were approaching 2020? When I thought of a new decade, I thought of a year of new beginnings and possibilities. Of course, none of us could have predicted a worldwide pandemic.
On that New Year’s Eve, my family and I packed our bags to go to our in-law's house. For a tired mom of two, it was going to be a perfect New Year’s Eve- we’d go to their neighbor's house for a party, and then I’d bring the kids back to my in-law’s early to go to bed. That meant I would have approximately three hours of alone time. I could ring in the new year just vegging out on my phone or iPad. Now looking back, it is sad that I was so excited about this, but as a busy mom, I needed my time.
What actually ended up happening was anything but.
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As we packed the bags to go, we set all the bags on our sidewalk so that we could wrangle the kids into the car. And then we drove away…with all of our things left on the sidewalk. My phone, laptop, everything, was left behind.
Now the good news of this was that some kind couple found the bags and gave them to our apartment manager, who brought them into the office right before they closed for the holiday. The bad news is I was ringing in the new year with nothing: no phone, no device, or anything.
Have you ever had a time where you turn to God as the last resort?
Well, this was me on that day. God should have been the first thing on my mind that New Year's Eve. I was so grateful for a wonderful 2019 and excited for another year; I should have been excited to worship Him! But instead, it took taking away all my devices and distractions for me to turn to God.
But as always, God showed up.
Even though I had wandered, He was patiently waiting there for me. Through praying to Him, it helped me reflect on the last year. Even though it was a great year, it was also a hard year, a year I naively thought was the roughest year of my life. I was tired of being stuck financially. I was tired of my job. I was tired of life being hard.
So in the hours leading up to midnight, I talked it all out with God. I let Him know everything was feeling, then I asked Him for help with me letting go of 2019.
So as the new year rang in, I took a deep breath, and I prayed the most dangerous prayer: for God’s will in my life.
And life was never the same again.
The first few months of 2020 were glorious. After praying for God’s will, I started a new prayer ministry, my husband got a new job, and we got to move to a new town that was only miles from my parents’ house. Everything was lining up and falling into place. I even found out I was twelve weeks pregnant without knowing! I was blown away that every time my husband and I took a step in faith by asking for God’s will, he showed up big time.
Until all of a sudden, life changed.
My son Daniel was born at 29 weeks and 1 day. Born three months early, he was rushed into the NICU where he would stay for 92 days. We were thankful he was okay, but he was born at 3 lbs 3 oz. and the hospital where he stayed was an hour away. We only got to see him 1-2 hours a day, and it was brutal.
That wasn’t it though. Four days after my son was born, a good friend passed away suddenly. Soon after that, my dad started going in and out of the hospital. My mother did the same. My husband lost his full-time job. Life went from amazing to devastating.
I couldn’t help but duke it out with God.
“We had a plan!” I said. “I kept praying for your will, and you kept showing up! Why on earth did you lead me here?”
The response I got?
At the moment I thought to hear God the most, I felt nothing. I got lost in the chaos, and in the midst of it, I thought God lost me too.
The amazing thing about God though? He is always the same. Even if I think He is silent, He is there, in ways my earthly brain can’t possibly comprehend.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
That means God is always with us. That doesn’t change. It’s our circumstances that change.
I can’t blame God for what happened in 2020. I can’t blame him for all the chaos that happened, or the eventual loss of my dad. Only good things come from God (James 1:17), and I don’t think God intended any of this.
Why did God lead me here?
I didn’t just happen to move closer to my parents. What I didn’t know at the time is that I moved closer to my parents in the last year of my dad’s life. I was there to help my mom with the battles she faced after losing her husband of 38 years.
I created a prayer ministry that became bigger than me- it became 35 prayer warriors from all over the world that from the goodness of their hearts wanted to change lives in prayer.
I know other good things came out of it too, but we often don’t know why things happen until we get to Heaven. And that’s okay, because God’s way is always better.
I definitely wrestled with why God led me on this up-and-down journey of God’s will. Yet, God doesn’t fit into a perfectly planned “word of the year” goal. It’s the middle of 2021 and I’m still working on this prayer I prayed on January 1, 2020. It was in my despair that God led me to Acts 20:24 and the realization that this life is short, but the impact we make is eternal.
If you are wondering why God led you to where you are right now, I want you to play a game that I played in my head throughout 2020:
- Pretend you are a fiction writer. Take the “bad thing” that is happening to you currently. How many pretend stories can you create of good things you didn’t know were happening as a result of your pain? Get creative with this, because many of them could be true.
- Pain is worthless unless it has a purpose. What purpose could you give to the pain that you are experiencing or have experienced?
- Take some time to flip through the Psalms. Which psalm could you turn into a prayer for the situation you are in?
Dear Lord, I will never know all the reasons that you have led me to where I am now. But please teach me to have a grateful heart for the moment. When I am in pain, remind me of the countless stories of the New Testament where disciples sang of Jesus’ joy when their life was in ruin. Help me to focus on the main purpose of my life, which is testifying the good news of His great grace. Amen.
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