Though the Mountains May Crumble (Saying Good-Bye to a Terrible, Wonderful Year)

This has been a hard year.

I confess that as I gasp my way to the end of 2011, it wearies me to look back and reflect. From the moment the door opened on this year right until this week, I’ve experienced trouble.

There were sweet joys and victories floating like garnish in the bitter stew of losses and struggles but they were few and short-lived. This was a year when God saw fit to deconstruct my life in a hundred ways and as it closes, I am still wondering why.

While others set goals and make resolutions for 2012, I do not. I simply lay this year down at Jesus’ feet and say, “Make of it what you will in my life.” And as for the year ahead, I dare not impose my own plans upon it. Honestly, my heart is too weary, my hopes too fragile, and uncertainty is still my closest companion in regards to the necessities of life.

One year ago this week, things were different. We lived in a different home. My husband and I each had different jobs. We served in a different church. I had hopes and plans based on what I expected to continue into a new year. On January 1, 2011, all that began to change and change and change.

Now, I tell myself, that it can change again so that at the end of 2012 I’ll be writing a different story. Life is like that. But right now there’s more that I don’t know than what I know.

That’s not a line I would have written this week last year. This week last year, I made a list of goals in full confidence that I would have some measure of control to meet them and yet, a few short days later, I walked into a life I didn’t see coming. Control was an illusion and as it flew from my grasp, what remained was the truth that Jesus stays even when my plans are gone.

When my son was growing up, he woke up every day with a plan. Unfortunately, it never took into consideration the plans I had for him for things like school and chores so that every day, my plans for his life seemed to him like an interruption.

I am like that with God.

In my morning devotion, my prayers are full of noble words about my desire to do His will but they always end with my request for Him to bless mine. And then, I close my Bible and open my planner so my to-do list rules the day more than the verses I just read.

This year, flipped that ritual on its head.

Oh, at first I spent hours crying out for help and spending every breath of my prayer life trying to move God to change all that was going wrong.

That didn’t really stop but after a while, it gets old, and you know God has heard it all and you know He’s not an idol just waiting for you to say the magic words so then you shut up and start to listen. And when things continue to stay unsolved, well, He’s still there and there are still people around you still in need of Him so then the prayers become more about “show me how to serve you while things are still unchanged.”

And then, well, you discover a certain freedom in knowing that even when everything has gone wrong, God is the One with the last word on your life, not the evil one. He can’t mess with your relationship with Jesus and he can’t take away God’s power to work through your life even when your life looks like no one could work through it.

I began to see that even if my plans went awry, God still had a plan for me. A plan for me to be attentive to Him and to serve others, to receive His love and to share it with those around me, even as the structures of my life collapsed.

It’s as if my relationship with Him became the one indestructible shelter in which to stand while all else crumbled like those sets in the movie, Inception. And I got a glimpse of the truth of Isaiah 54:10 that says “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

I drew comfort, this year, from the writings of other believers who, through the centuries, have faced troubles far greater than my own, and yet found Jesus standing with them in the midst of it and learned that He is enough.

They don’t preach a gospel that says Jesus will come in and give you everything you ask for – money, job security, health, relationships. They preach a gospel that says this world is under the rule of the prince of darkness. It’s crumbling, bleeding, dying, and full of pain. It’s a battle ground with real victims, sorrow, and trouble.

But those who know Jesus reside in another kingdom, one that can’t be seen but that is ruled by Christ, not by circumstance. He doesn’t deliver us so that we can live comfortable lives receiving all the benefits of this world. He delivers us so that we can testify to His sufficiency in every condition of life in this world so that others will know the joys of the next.

I’m no martyr. I want my situation to improve. I want 2012 to be the year things turn around and joy is more than a condiment in a steady diet of trials.

But I’m freer at the close of this year than I was at the close of 2010. I’m freer because I know that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ and that His love is sufficient for me in all things.

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    The Conversation

  1. Joe Crowley says:

    A Romans 15:4 life! Happy Flexible New Year!!!

  2. To be able to bow and say it is well with my soul…not easy with our limited vision. Thank God he has given you new sight. Imagine how horrible this would be without him. I pray the Lord bring youvto places of deep abiding joy my friend

  3. sheri says:

    Although I felt pangs of pain and waves of sadness as I read your story, I rejoice that your faith remains strong and stoic…Knowing that you will overcome through our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray you will be comforted as we are on the cusp of a NEW YEAR ~ 2012 ~ <3 and God bless you and Rob…

  4. Lesley says:

    Amen Lori, Amen!

  5. Leslie Payne says:

    Eleven years ago a delivery truck slammed full speed into the back of my car as I sat at the read light. That was the first day I learned to live in the moment. Good news: I lived. Bad news: Horrible pain ahead, loss of career, friends, and future plans. Yet through these experiences he draws us closer and deeper. May your loss of plans bring a joy you never knew before.

  6. May God bles you all with His nearness in the year to come! I treasure your comments, each and every one!

  7. Michael Weil says:

    There are so many people I know (who have a relationship with the Lord) who’ve had 2011’s like what you’ve described, Lori. (Us, included) Thank you for your essays throughout the year that have challenged, encouraged, and brought laughter — often in the midst of tears. God was/is/will be with us in it all; may we continue to lean on him, in all times and in all ways.

  8. Thanks, Michael, you’re a wonderful encourager!