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As I reflect on 2022, I can’t help but acknowledge that it did not end the way I anticipated. As many of you are doing tonight, or have done so in the past few days, at the end of last year, I wrote out my goals for 2022. I sat down, prayed and wrote a roadmap of what I wanted 2022 to look like. I developed a roadmap with the direction I thought was glorifying to God. The problem is, my goals involved what I wanted—what I thought would make me a better person, a better friend, daughter, sister; a better follower of Christ. Even though I prayed over my goals, what was missing was fully pursuing God’s will over my life—fully surrendering the year over to God. You see, we all have an idea of where we want our lives to be or look like. We measure success and develop roadmaps with worldly aspirations, rather than focusing on pursuing God’s Kingdom; and pursing Holiness as we are called to do. Pursuing Holiness is something that must flow from our hearts. It is a loyalty toward God that abolishes anything that distracts us from our commitment towards Him. This can happen in so many ways. It can happen in relationships, in focusing our hearts and minds on worldly achievements, and it can happen in putting our worth in anything that is not our Maker.

Even though 2022 looked different than I anticipated, I am so glad it did. I am glad because God has shown me His unwavering Grace and He has shown me strength I didn’t even know I had, to get through this year. My love for God has grown as He has revealed to me so much of Him. One of my prayers at the end of last year was for Him to grow me in faith, to help me love people as He does, I asked to grow as a person and I prayed He’d give me wisdom so I can lead others towards Him. He did all these things, just not the way I envisioned. This year was very painful in so many ways. In the midst of all the pain and disappointment, my faith in Him grew like never before because I depended on Him in the days ahead. I depended on God, my Maker in the most minute things just to get through the day. He showed me His love like I never experienced before. Love that does not compare to anything or anyone’s here on earth. It is the type of love that is all encompassing, all powerful and all healing. God showed me how to love those that hurt me. This was hard. It was hard because flesh takes over and it is almost incomprehensible to think you can love someone who has hurt you so much. But He did! He showed me a way towards forgiveness and healing that has helped me understand His love for me so much more. Friends, God answered my prayers in ways that at the time seemed so unfair and painful. We don’t understand why things happen the way they do at the time, but God has purpose, in everything we experience. In reflection, I see God’s hand gently reminding me that He never left my side. That my pain had purpose. He was there with me, holding me while I sat wondering why things happened a certain way, or why I wasn’t able to do things that I love anymore. I am not the same person I was at the end of last year. I am so much stronger, wiser and I have experienced God’s love and protection in a way that has changed my life and perspective in so many ways.

When I mentioned pursuing God’s Kingdom above, it is something spiritual, something that is done so with intentionality in the way we live our lives. Fully, aggressively and wholeheartedly seeking God and His will over ours. It is a commitment with God we acknowledge daily as we engage with others, and as we seek His guidance in fulfilling His plan over our lives. It is done so with aggressive determination, recognizing that no other pursuit in our lives is worth our efforts as it is pursing God and His Kingdom. This effort will take faith; it will take child-like trust and innocence. It will take a daily devotion towards that commitment.

As you’re working on writing down your goals for 2023, I challenge you to FULLY yield 2023 to God. Your goals, your plans, whether personal, financial, relational, etc. Trust God with all the things that matter to you, because He will bring into fruition much more than you could ever plan or anticipate. Leave room for God to move. Things might not look the way you anticipated or planned. Trust. Keep trusting. Trust in Him. He moves in the midst of change, in the midst of pain, in disappointment, in situations that seem hopeless—He moves! Only He can bring satisfaction to our hearts; what we so desperately desire, because He is our Maker and in Him, and only Him, we can feel fulfilment. Not things, nor people can fill the desires of our hearts the way He can. I promise you, when you reflect back on 2023 this time next year, you will see God’s unwavering Love, Grace and Provision over your life. Things that you thought are important now, might not be as important next year as your focus shifts to Him and His will over your life.

Happy New Year my friends. I pray 2023 is the year in which you grow in God, with God and for God.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"The joy of the Lord is my strength." Nehemiah 8:10

"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life , and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where theives break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal." Matthew 6:19-21

- Your friend

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