Happy New Year from my crew to you! I’m sure I’m not alone when I ask, “How in the world can it be 2018 already?” (Insert cliche’ regarding time passing here: What a difference a year makes, right?
One year ago we were staying at my parent’s house in North Carolina, having moved all our worldly belongings into storage in anticipation of the sale of our home.
Home. That’s a word that would take on powerful new meanings for us over the course of the year. But I digress.
We had no idea what was to come on the heels of that sale, how drastically our lives would change, and what the year-that-was-2017 would hold.
I can’t speak for Amanda but had I known, I’m pretty sure you’d have seen me running screaming from the room.
I’m so glad I didn’t know. In the midst of all the questions, loss, hurt, and fear, Jesus captured our hearts again.
We didn’t even know we had gone missing. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, set out to find the two lambs who had somehow escaped the fold. He came on all the more, tracking us all the way to the Midwest, to an old church building, to a pew in the balcony where He met us, week after week, and brought us back the fold, back to His family.
We were, quite simply, being changed by the power and truth of the Gospel. I realized it was ok to admit I didn’t have it all together, that I was still a man in desperate need of a Savior. I saw my wife reborn in the midst of all the loss of home, friends, and family like a phoenix rising from the ashes. All the time I had missed in my kids’ lives began to be restored like locust years.
We began to see that somehow we missed the truth that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are everything. We came to see how the Gospel proves He loves us more than we could ever imagine, not because we serve Him, or because we continually do more for Him, but simply because He is love. 2017 will forever remain as the year my heart was pursued and captured by the overwhelming love of Jesus.
Crazy that I had to quit being a pastor for that to happen.
Now I look ahead to 2018 with eagerness and hope. As one of our pastors said yesterday, the same God that carried us through every part of 2017 has already gone before us into 2018. I don’t know about you, but I find such peace comfort in the knowledge that He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, 365 days a year, not just at Christmas.