The best times are ahead! The challenges of the past year will go down in history as important epochs in my life, in the nation, in the world and in the Church.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens
This sums up my thoughts exactly as I reflect on 2020, and plan for the future. Even though Charles Dickens characterized the times in his 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, set in London and Paris, it is befitting for our times.
It was the best of times for me and it, for sho’, was in the running for the worst of times. I am reflecting on both, the best and worst times. I choose to be grateful for both. I experienced both: the best times with an abundance of joy for the cherished memories lovingly and indelibly imprinted on my heart and in my mind that still make me smile; and, the worst times with unfathomable heartache, despair and raw pain that gripped me like a viper.
GOD IS in the best of times.
- I witnessed the young man I call, son, vow his unconditional love and devotion to lovely bride. Forever etched in my heart and memory is the enchanted, sacred wedding, bringing together my son and his bride, and their now intertwined families in unity, faith, hope and love. The exquisiteness of the day was captured on camera and published in an international bridal magazine. I am thankful, God was present. Deu. 12:7
- My oldest daughter left our nest, and masterfully created one of her own with love and warmth. Watching her handpick every piece of décor and design every room was a delight to see. I am thankful, God blessed and protected. Jer. 29:11
- My close relative was released from 40 years of confinement. She is living a full and free life, one that she could only imagine for four decades. We celebrated the hope fulfilled. I am thankful, God delivered. Ps. 91:15
- I celebrated with angst and happiness my 50th birthday. I labored over a tedious assessment of my half-a-century of accomplishments, failures, blessings, regrets and everything in between. It was a terrible time for me. I was a mess. I am thankful, God comforted and restored. Ps. 23:4
- I started writing again. I published my first blog “Sunshine and Rain” on our Your Vine Connection ministry website. God gave me a gift that I left unwrapped for far too long. I allowed fear and insecurity to rob me of the gift that is in me, that keeps calling me. Writing helps me see, helps me feel, helps me release, helps me remember, helps me share my heart. I am thankful, God made me fearfully and wonderfully. Ps. 139:14
- My husband and I moved the headquarters of Your Vine Connection Ministry to a building, where we are preparing for the harvest that is coming. This has been a long time coming. A few days ago, I was reviewing what I need to update on www.yourvineconnection.org. I saw the message from a year ago on the YVC online giving page, that part of our vision was to expand to a building, where we could facilitate more ministry and community outreach. Nearly a year later, God opened the door for the perfect space, in the perfect location. We were perfectly ready with a patient expectation. I am thankful, God provided. Rom. 8:32
GOD IS in the worst of times.
- Death and loss.
- Sickness and disease.
- Civil and social unrest.
- Chaos and foolery.
- Spiritual attacks and heartache. I experienced the worst ever this year. The assault was vicious. The heartache, unspeakable. It had me in knots. I cried so, my tears begin to sting my tender skin, my eyes swollen shut like I had been in a fight with Mike Tyson. So much so, I thought despair would take me under. I was feeling, but I wasn’t fighting. My husband and I tell our children that bought sense is the best sense. God gives you wisdom, but it you don’t take heed to His Word, you have to buy a piece of wisdom. Buying sense always cost more than you can afford. But, when you painstakingly buy enough sense, you hold on it. It becomes precious, because it cost you so much. I learned my lesson well – to take courage, to put on the whole armor of God, so I can stand against the wiles of the devil, again and again and again, until I win the victory. Is 54:10, I Cor. 16:13-14
What I left:
- All things negative, including regrets, unforgiveness, depression.
What I kept:
- Faith. Exercise it. Guard it. By all means necessary, keep it and never lose it.
- Prioritizing drinking from the well that gives me life. I need a certain amount of Worship and God’s Word to stay hydrated. I spent far too much time being parched (no one in the house enjoys that!). I need exercise. I need relationships. Now, I know what it takes to keep my mind, body and spirit healthy.
- Commitment to hone my gift.
- Heart connections to people God has placed on my journey of life now and in the future.
- Truth. Everything God says about me is the truth.
- Vulnerability. My heart is open to love with abandon, without fear of rejection.
- Confidence. I accept every demand God is placing on my life.
We can choose to thank God the Father for our very lives, for the opportunity to experience all of life, the good and bad, the ups and the downs, and all the crazy turns. His amazing grace, His reckless love, His immeasurable mercy, His precious blood shed for me and you means all the more, when we consider the times.