Reflections On 2012

I awoke this morning thinking of the blessings and the challenges I faced during this past year. As the song says, "I've had some good days and I've had some hills to climb...I've had some weary days and some sleepless nights..." Yes, I've had all of the above and then some, yet I've "learned" not to complain.

Not only because complaining won't do any good, but also because I’ve learned that there's a reward in suffering that rivals no other experience in life! The Apostle Paul expressed this well in Philippians 3 when he said,

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!" (NLT)

Paul understood that to really know Christ, to become fully acquainted with his nature, his character, his heart, his mind, and his work for us means to get low down and dirty in the depths of life's worst situations, then stand there in faith looking, expecting and waiting for Christ to appear in all His glory and power!

If we want to know Christ in the truth and purity of His being, it won't only happen when everything is perfect and all the boxes of our happiness chart are checked off. Knowing Christ means to be satisfied with Christ and His love alone! Nothing else... Not even a concern of man's opinion of us! 

In 2012, I’ve learned something about this for myself, especially the part about suffering with Christ unto death. I've learned that indeed, there is

A time to be born, and a time to die; 
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to keep silent, and a time to speak;

I’ve learned that we don't always get to choose when any of these times, good or bad, occurs in our lives. I've learned that we must face each day, and whatever it brings, with our hand firmly embracing the Savior's hand, following His lead while listening for His guidance and wisdom.

I’ve learned that in the dark places, He's there... Even in the valley of the shadow of death, He’s there and He never leaves us for an instant! He knows the way and leads us through so skillfully because He's taken that journey so many times. He knows the well-worn path like the back of His own nail-scarred hand. So He knows how to bring us through that valley and bring us out victoriously because He conquered that journey and won a glorious, eternal victory after all the agony and suffering of Calvary! 

I've learned that while painful and scary, suffering is a useful tool in the Master's hand as it becomes the catalyst that drives us deeper into His presence and it keeps us lingering at His feet where we discover the brilliance of His glory and the eternal depths of His love.

We need to understand this concept of suffering so desperately in this day and age, as so many in the church have confused material blessings and manmade prosperity with the genuine favor and the authentic love of God. They are truly not one in the same. Our "Material Prosperity Equals Great Faith" teachings have actually done us a grave disservice in the Body of Christ! It’s truly led us to crave created things more that we cherish our Creator!

To struggle doesn't mean you have no faith! On the contrary, it means that you have faith that God deems worthy of testing, proving, enhancing and strengthening. And it's this faith that the devil is eager to crush before it crushes him. Think about it... If our forefathers in the Bible had no struggles, the Bible would be a very thin, very boring book!

If we had no sickness, would we ever know Christ as our healer?
If we had no disappointment, would we ever know Christ as the lifter of our heads?
If we had no despair, would we ever know Christ as our rescuer?
If we had no defeat, would we ever know Christ as our victory?
If we never faced death, would we ever know Christ as our redeemer?

Believe me, I never wanted to experience so much suffering, struggle or loss in my life. Ever! 

But if that's what God allowed so that I may know Christ, so that you may learn of Christ through my journey, then so be it! I’d much rather live a trouble-free life with endless days of joy and blessings! But how much more thrilling and fulfilling is it to see God work miracle after miracle, release blessing after blessing, and provide testimony after testimony so that we may know Him! Suffering very well may be a necessary element of my life, nevertheless, I choose life in Christ which is joy unspeakable and full of Glory!

God only knows what 2013 holds for me. Perhaps there will be more suffering (I truly hope not... LOL) - Nevertheless, I know that along with any suffering, will come the priceless gift of deeper revelations of Christ.

Thankfully, the Father has been speaking a lot about me entering a Season of R&R ~ Restoration and Recovery, which I gladly look forward to! There have even been whispers and hints of discovering love again someday. And I receive that! I very much love being married. In fact, I thrive when I have someone special to lavish my affections on. That's who I am and there's no sense trying to deny that!

There are more books in the works, expanded ministry opportunities, a whole lot of travel and the possibility of a new home in a new city! Lots and lots of excitement for sure! Whatever God has in store for me, is alright with me!

At the end of 2012, I find myself tucked in the Father's lap, listening to the life story... the love story He's written for me and so far, this story is an excellent read! So I think I’ll read on and see what the end will be!

Blessings & Much Love,

Melissa  :-)


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