The year is pleasantly wrapping up. I can already feel and perceive the sweet aura of Christmas in the air! It is no surprise that this season always comes with an amazingly cool breeze of love and joy because it encapsulates and announces the birthday of our saviour, Jesus. However, amidst the jolly, we often have a certain proclivity towards reflection. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we reflect on the entire year and how much we were able to glean from it. Some people like me, even go back to their list of goals, prayers and expectations to take stock. Even though I am still yet to do that this year, my mind has already done it meticulously a couple of times.
Reflecting on your year can come with various emotions ranging from joy, to sadness, to thankfulness, to disappointment, and a host of others. You may find yourself asking questions which sometimes may be difficult to even process. At the beginning of the year many of us had expectations, goals, resolutions, promises we made to ourselves, promises God made to us, promises family and friends made to us, desires and aspirations. Now the year is ending and some of us are excited that we had every item on our expectation list ticked; if that’s you, congratulations! I celebrate you! However, some of us till have only a few or no items ticked; If that’s you, don’t be dismayed, the author of time, “God” still got you! “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
To be honest, 2018 has been one of my toughest years in the history of my beautiful life. The year was a rich tapestry of struggles, detours, joy, love, peace and pain. I had multiple worse days and a few good days. The were days I had melt downs, there were days I bawled my eyes out, there were days I kept tossing in bed because I was too anxious and scared about what would happen the next day and there were other days I laughed so hard that my stomach felt hurt! But in the midst of all of these, one amazing thing is that every single day of the year, whether good or bad, I felt the tender love of the Father embrace my heart and comfort my soul with an invaluable divine assurance. While reflecting on the year, particularly on the unticked items on my list, one question that constantly pops up in my mind is “How shall this be?”
Recently, I have been studying the Life of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She’s one woman in the Bible I admire and hold dearly. Her story may not have been so long, and a book may not have been dedicated to her like Ruth or Esther, but her life and purpose made an indelible mark that spans through eternity. Unlike the society of today, I believe in those days, virginity was a valuable and strict moral value for the unmarried. Exodus 22:16 gives us a picture of how serious it was; “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.” Therefore, this makes me think that the population of virgins at that time was high. Mary certainly wasn’t the only virgin in Nazareth. Aside from her physical virginity, there were other invaluable virtues she possessed that set her apart from the other damsels. I believe It was the virginity and purity of her heart that drove such an upsurge of divine favour into her life.
Some theologians say, Mary was a young teenager when angel Gabriel appeared to her. It must have been a monumental event in her life! I can imagine how her youthful eyes widened in fear and bewilderment at the sound of his greeting. No wonder, he immediately said; “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30). One thing that captivated my attention was the question she asked after the great message and promise of the conception of the messiah was given to her. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) It sounds so authentic and resonates well with me! When God gives us a promise, sometimes before we get to a place of total surrender and submission, we become bothered about the “how” of the promise. Today, you might probably be saying to yourself, “the year is ending, but God hasn’t done all or some of what he promised me, how shall this be, since it’s only few days left?!” I believe Mary and Sarah must have a strong connection beyond what we can see on the surface, which I still have to study. Just like Mary, God gave Sarah a promise that she would conceive in her old age. Sarah too had her “How shall this be moment”. The Bible tells us in Genesis 18:12 “So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master–my husband–is also so old?”
Apart from the usual end of the year “How shall this be” moments, I am pretty sure that you may have had or are having such moments about what God has promised you, not just for 2018 but for your life and destiny. You may have even laughed the silent laughter of disbelieve like Sarah. Considering your age, marital status, career level, health, bank account, nationality and other things, you may be wondering and saying to yourself “How shall this be?!” Just like one of my Fathers in the Lord, Bishop David Oyedepo would say, “God does not speak to us according to our size, He speaks to us according to His size.” That’s why we are sometimes thrown aback by His promises. When God gives us a promise it is for an appointed time; having done all, the reason why we probably haven’t received it may simply be because it is not yet the appointed time. To everything there is a time and a season. Habakkuk 2:3 tells us “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”
Just like Mary, God is willing to stick it out and work on us till the capacity of our Faith grows to accommodate the promise. Angel Gabriel said “…. The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37) The word of God came through just at the moment when Mary was wondering about her Marital status, the implications of her being pregnant before marriage and how it would be possible in the first place. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Just like the Angel told Mary about Elizabeth, sometimes when God gives people around you or a friend that very thing you have been praying for, It may just be His way of boosting your faith and telling you that He can do it! So rather than get all envious, sulky or cranky, begin to celebrate with them and clean up your house because God is in your neighbourhood and He may be at your door step any time soon!
I do not know how much you may have gleaned from this year or what its tides may have blown in your direction, but I am here to stir up faith within you!
God may not have done everything or anything on your list but what of the things He did that are not on your list? Rather than dwell so much on the things you have not gotten, begin to count your blessings and you would notice that hope would start rising within you.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is now! You do not have to wait till you see the physical manifestation of your expectation before you become thankful! Begin to call those things which be not as though they were! (Romans 4:17-KJV) One scripture I love is Hebrews 11:11 “Sarah also believed God, and she was able to have a baby even though she was too old to have children. But she trusted God to do what he had promised.” Beloved, trust God! His promises are yea and amen! (Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Corinthians 1:20)
Just like Mary, renew your mind with the Word and it would energize you to move past your “how shall this be” moment. It is high time you said to the Lord “Be it unto me according to your Word” (Luke 1:18) Don’t waste a minute, rise and go find your “Elizabeth”! You may not have gotten the physical manifestation of the promise but “Elizabeth” has. Go celebrate with her! By doing that, the Baby in her womb would leap and there would be a purpose and promise collision which would lead to the confirmation of God’s promise on your life. Just like Mary, I believe you would have an encounter that would put a melodious and glorious song on your lips. (Luke 1:39-56)
2018 may have been one of my toughest years, albeit, I am thankful because it stretched and broke me so much that the purest version of me started to see the light of day. It stripped me to my core and made me give up my unconscious desire to always be in control; it finally let me embrace vulnerability and yield my entire being to God’s sovereignty. It also helped me delve in to deeper realms of my soul where I found unexplainable intimacy with God. Ultimately, I am absolutely grateful to God for the year 2018.
At this point, here’s what I would like to leave with you as you reflect and plan towards 2019: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3) “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8) God is eternal, the time of man isn’t a barrier to him! He can do anything at any time! Your times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15) so relax and be at rest. “For surely there is a result, and thine expectation shall not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)
As we walk gorgeously and gloriously into the new year, stay thankful and joyful because “the Joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). You need all the possible strength you can muster to plunge into 2019! Also remember it is not by power or strength but by the Spirit of God. Here’s to finishing and starting strong! I pray we all have a joyful and marvellous Christmas and New Year! Thank you for reading. I love you! Stay firm in the Father’s love!
“And blessed [spiritually fortunate and favoured by God] is she who believed and confidently trusted that there would be a fulfilment of the things that were spoken to her [by the angel sent] from the Lord.”
Luke 1:45 (AMP)