For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
— Psalms 139:13-16 [NIV]
I enjoy reading. Early on it was Science Fiction and over the years have worked my way around everything else with the except of poetry, which is odd since I consider myself a romantic. When I reach the last page of a book and close it for the final time, I tend to reflect on all those pages and ask myself whether I enjoyed the journey, a quick mental book report with no worries about turning it in. As I put 2023 to bed and close its cover, I cannot help but think back over the past year and ask, did I enjoy it, did it do anything for me?
Let’s start with the year’s beginning. Like many, I tended to make New Year’s resolutions, and like most, if they lasted the first month, it was a good year. After failing so many times in my effort to change I finally realized the only thing I was accomplishing was heaping shame on my lack of accomplishments. So, several years ago those resolutions came to an end, but each year since I felt guilty for not making them. After all it was a fresh year, and there were so many things I wanted to change about myself.
Since new year resolutions were not working for me and guilt did not let up, I needed to find something else to help me start the new year off right. Over the years I have read about how many of the Christian ministries that I followed would talk about the word or phrase God had given them for the new year, a direction or plan He had for them. I figured I had nothing to lose but some guilt so last year I asked God if He had a word for me as well and what I seemed to hear was “change“. Now that was something I could grab on to, I had been looking for change most of my life, so I even went about formalizing it by writing it down with bullet points on how I was going to accomplish it.
When I finished, it looked much like those resolutions from previous years… There a problem there but it took me all year to figure it out. As the year came to an end, I realized that if “change” was truly God’s desire for me, my trying to make it happen only fights what only He can accomplish.
So having failed again, I come to 2024 ready to start all over. This year as I waited on God, I felt He was talking about “transition” for the coming year. Transition made a lot of sense. I was laid off in June last year and still have not found a job. Between unemployment and God’s provision, we have managed very well for the past seven months, but being your typical male, I had lost my identity and had been struggling to come to terms with it. So last year was not a lot of fun but it was one of blessings and miracles where I experienced God’s provisions for my family, not that that slowed me down from frantically searching for a new job. But as the year came to an end, I was tired from trying and had nothing to show for trying. I was ready to transition into something else and it was looking more and more like retirement, at least from what I considered my identity for most of my life.
A few days later as I was praying about transition, I received clarification from God that I was not going to be going through transition in 2024 but be transformed in the coming year—even better, maybe I could be transformed and keep my day job, if I ever found one. Of course regaining my identity was my ideal, not necessarily what God ideal or is asking of me. So I will continue to pray and seek what God’s transformation rather than focus on how I can transform myself; let’s be honest, I tend to get confused and act like God is there to server my needs, not the other way around. I do ask that you keep me in your prayers. I cannot express how much of a comfort they are and sustain me when I take my eyes off Jesus Christ.
As a side note, I did it again. I cannot seem to get away from lists. If you want to see mine for 2024, you can view it here. The main difference between last year’s and this one is that I left out the action items for God to fill in. Rather than define myself through actions (i.e. read 3 chapters a day), these are the ways I pray God will transform me. Do me a favor, as you read it, lift them up in prayer for me.
Mind if I ask how your year went and what plans if any you have for 2024? More importantly, whose plans are they? Are they yours, you who does not know for sure what will happen in the next 24 hours [James 4:13-17], or God’s, who ordained you in your mother’s womb?
Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ,