Have you ever entered a room where you flung the door open? No doubt, there is an enthusiasm and hopeful anticipation about what is beyond that door. We fling the door open because we are anxious to get there, most likely because there is something positive worth all the energy.
Conversely, cracking the door portrays a hesitancy and caution. Uncertainty of expectations produces a slow glimpse. Maybe there’s something there but not knowing what may be in store. Just a little peak to see if it’s worth opening to enter. Slow. Uncertain. Cautious. Questioning.
As 2012 draws to a close, I find myself cracking the door to 2013. Well of course I have no control over the entrance because whether I like it or not, the new year will begin. There’s nothing magical about the flip of a calendar. But each new year does bring with it hope – hope for change, hope for something better, hope for answered prayers.
I would love to swing the door open and embrace the new year. But as I reflect back over the past year, the reflection causes the year to bleed into the past few years – 4 to be exact since I moved to Dallas to go to seminary. It’s been a trying time of exposing, pruning, purging and barrenness. Trying beyond my wildest imagination. It’s exposed areas of my life where I long for restoration and change. A number of prayers, personal prayers have gone unanswered. The disappointment has been discouraging at times and breeds caution because disappointment has a way of strangling hope and tempering expectation. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it is what it is.
If there’s one thing I know about the Christian walk, is there are times when God will take us to a barren place, where it seems like something has stopped and you’ve been stripped. Barren places are typically accompanied by loss and disruption of our lives. We long for restoration but only to find a long stretch of winding road that endlessly keeps going through nothing. No change in circumstances. No answered prayers. No reasonable explanation other than this is where God has you for now. It puts you in a place of examination and questioning. Is it me Lord? What’s going on? Silence.
Yesterday, I was reminded once again of God’s sovereignty over creation and our lives in a sermon on Romans 8:18-30. The preacher reminded me that as creation groans for redemption, so we too will feel the weight of brokenness in the world and in our lives. But God is working it all out together for those who love him, who have been placed in his body by him. This reminded me that God is just as sovereign over the barren times as he is the burgeoning times. He can answer prayers but for times unknown, sometimes he doesn’t and the trek through desert territory continues. And always he is working on us to conform us into the image of his Son. There is a purpose in our barren times.
So I’m cracking door to 2013 and proceeding with caution. For I know that it may very well look like the past few years. But I can be confident in God’s sovereignty and his purposes, which he works together for good. I can trust in the one who saw fit guarantee my union with Christ to spend eternity with Him. I can rest in the finished work of the cross and the all sufficient sacrifice that Christ made for my reconciliation to a loving Father whose ways I may not always understand. Yet I can hope in his promises that he does hear and care and guiding my steps.
But I am looking forward to completing my last year of seminary though there is much uncertainty of what that will bring. For in this stripping and pruning time, I’ve realized a tremendous shift in my professional interests and transitions even now that I would love to occur. How will this all work out? I do not know but I know in whose hands I rest. So we shall see what 2013 will bring.