Sometimes, we don’t realize how much God has worked in our lives until we reflect over a period of time. Last night, I pulled out my journals and looked at my journey through the notes I kept. Between that and some general reflection, here are some lessons I learned in 2016.
1. God’s plan is far superior to mine.
I have a very limited perspective. I’m also a planner. Those two don’t usually work together well. I’m learning to just trust the Lord rather than assuming I know the best way to go.
2. Laziness corrupts; discipline builds. Therefore, work hard and rest well.
There’s a fine line between resting and being lazy. This lesson comes a year or so after I learned that there’s a fine line between working hard and overworking. Lord willing, I’ll find a healthy balance between work and rest this year.
3. God is good even when I’m a jerk.
It’s incredibly humbling to realize God is showing you grace in the midst of your internal temper tantrum. Multiples times this past year, God has shown me goodness in the very moments I least deserved it. His grace goes much further than I formerly realized.
4. Ambiguity does not necessarily equal profundity.
Difficult poetry and confusing movies intrigue me. I feel like each piece of art is a puzzle to be solved. At times, though, this can make me feel insecure about my own poetry. I feel like my writing is sub-par because it is often easier to understand than the works of others. But I don’t need to write cryptically to be a faithful communicator of God’s truth. The depths of God’s love are already deep beyond measure.
5. I am far more selfish than I like to admit.
Simply put, I need to think of others more than I do.
6. I still have much to learn about Scripture.
There are plenty of stories in the Bible that I don’t understand. I don’t see what God is doing in every line, nor do I know why he chose to include certain sections. That’s definitely a pride check. But if the Holy Spirit inspired this book, I shouldn’t expect to fully grasp everything. I’m learning to trust God even if I don’t understand everything, humbly trusting him rather than leaning on my own understanding.
7. The fear of the Lord is not an outdated idea.
I researched the fear of the Lord this past semester, and I was challenged by what I found. I realized how little I fear the Lord now, and I started praying for God to work in me a healthy fear of him. I’m hoping to keep studying this motif for the good of the church, Lord willing.
8. Taco Bell can be both the best decision and the worst decision of any given evening.
If you’re in school, you can probably relate. No other fast food restaurant marries happiness and regret quite like the Bell. If you go, may grace and peace be multiplied to you.
9. This world is full of surprises.
In 2016, Leicester City won the English Premiere League when the odds against them were 5,000 to 1. As a new fan, this was incredibly exciting. This season, however, Leicester isn’t doing so well. The team is currently ranked fourteen out of twenty teams. Things change unexpectedly and quickly. Don’t place your hope in what can’t sustain it.
10. Friendships may be some of the greatest blessings God gives us in this world.
Few things give me more joy than simply spending time with good friends. Don’t underestimate the power of solid accountability, and don’t pass up the opportunity to share life with a close band of brothers and sisters. God often uses these people to encourage and to challenge me, to sharpen and to equip me. And time with them is almost always restful, even if it involves late night Fifa tournaments.
11. My love for books is still alive and well.
There’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes with checking out the maximum number of books allowed from the library at any given time. There’s a specific draw for secondhand book shops. Sales at Lifeway and at Barnes and Noble are dangerous. I may need to start investing in more book shelves.
12. Prayer needs to be more primary in my life.
My prayer life struggles most of the time. I’ve been challenged this year to pray more, to talk and to listen better, and to learn to love the Lord more deeply. He has given us a tremendous blessing by giving us access to him in prayer. May we never waste it or take it for granted.