“So here we stand. In the gray. Without answers. With anxieties, sadness, disappointment, and fears. But more importantly, with our unchanging and sovereign God. This is His story. And so is yours. We can escape the bitterness and callous heart that comes from hard things when we look to Him as the Giver of ALL good gifts. If He has given it to you… it is good. This might sting today. It may not make sense today. Rest assured, the Lord grieves with us in our sorrows as well. But He allows circumstances and portions of our stories to enter because He sees the beauty around the bend. While, of course, we are praying that God would heal the girls of any delay or atypical development that is occurring, we also are ready to praise Him and trust Him if He, in His wisdom, chooses not to. And this, my friends, is where freedom lies. There is eternal beauty in the waiting. What an incredible, merciful God we serve. He brings beauty from all of our ashes. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.”- written January 1, 2014
As I have looked back on the past year, so many words and so many thoughts come to mind. The Lord has, point blank, carried us through 2014. I am sure some of you can relate. When I first began this blog, I had no idea what the Lord desired to do with it, with our family’s story. I shared His words with obedience and have been absolutely awed at what He has done with it. To watch God use the hardest season of my life in a way that brings Him the utmost glory has been nothing short of beautiful. Now, we stand at the brink of 2015, and the only thing I am positive of is that He will continue to carry us, and He will not stop working all things together for good. Speaking events and a book (which I promise, dear readers, will eventually reach your hands!) are in the mix; but I would be amiss to not look back on what He has taught us-and I hope you- through the past year.
When I think about 2014, one word comes to mind: battle. It has been a battle, full of blood, sweat, tears, vomit, and more. It has been messy, but He has been good. As I wrote about surrender last week, it occurred to me that we are all going to surrender to something. This life is in fact a battle, and if you are not sure of that just look around you, or more importantly, within you. For you see, the battle behind all the battles exterior is the battle for our very souls. Each and every day, you are going to surrender to something. It might be the pain you feel as you take one more drink or slash one more scar into your flesh. It could be that person who you know is not good for you but makes you feel whole for an hour while leaving you more broken after. We give in to so many things: our jobs, our relationships, our habits, our addictions, our emotions. My hope today and every day is that we would not resist God’s pursuit of us and instead surrender to it. But, this will not come without a price, for again, there is a battle going on.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”- Ephesians 6:10-13 (emphasis mine)
God’s word makes it clear that there is much going on behind the scenes, behind that which we can see with our own eyes. At times, it appears that this fight is against one another, or even against ourselves. Yet, let us not forget that this battle is in fact one which goes much deeper than our own flesh and blood. There is an enemy that would love for us to believe it is only skin-deep; hence all the brokenness in the world around us. But, 2014 has taught me more than ever that until the day I see Jesus face to face, each and every day, each and every moment, I am in a battle much greater than myself. But God.
This year, we have battled. We have battled for our marriage during a time where time nurturing our covenant has been limited and stress has been in abundance. We have walked through things in our twenties that some do not walk through, period. We have battled to get nutrients into our daughters and keep them there, which in our situation is much easier said than done. We have battled for answers, prognosis, appointments, therapy. We have battled for our friendships and our mission, as it has been a daily temptation to throw in the towel at times. Each of you have done the same in your own lives in different ways. We have certainly not battled perfectly, and many days have been an absolute, imperfect, mess; yet I have learned two things I want to pass on to you as this year comes to a close:
We are all fighting a battle.
Who is fighting this battle?
What are we fighting against?
The way you answer these questions is crucial to how you will live in the coming year.
God’s word is very clear, on numerous occasions, that this fight is the Lord’s. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s constant cry to His people was this: Do not be afraid. Do not be dismayed. I am with you. I am fighting. I always win. (Isaiah 8:9-16, Deuteronomy 20:1-9, Exodus 14:14, Joshua 1:9, and more). What if you were promised victory in all things? What if you were assured that, despite insurmountable circumstances, the battle had already been won for you? With God, this is precisely true. This is the reality of living surrendered to the Lord. But, Morgan, you might say. This sounds good, but you don’t know what I am fighting against. You don’t know all that is against me. That’s okay. I do not have to; for I know the God who is working on your behalf and that is enough. Victory, while it may not appear like you anticipated, and it may not be visible on this side of heaven, is already yours if you put the battle in His hands. And, let us not forget that we are not fighting against one another; we are fighting against an enemy who cannot ultimately win in light of our ever-present, ever-powerful, all-consuming Savior. He already bought your victory on Calvary. So, while it may seem like the fight is against the person who took your parking space, or the person who insulted you, or the person who told you a lie and broke your heart, it goes much, much deeper than that. This fight is in fact not against the cancer, not against the addiction, not against the abuser. This fight is against sin and death itself, and Christ has already won that battle! We no longer have to live as if we are in charge of making things go according to plan. No. Instead, we can take a step back with open hands, assume a posture of holy awe, and rest assured that The Lord, the Lord is our helper. We can love one another, even turn the other cheek, in light of the knowledge that God wins each and every time. We can embrace those that offend us, offering hope to those that hurt; for we know that hurting people hurt others. This, my friends, is the power of the Gospel.
To those of you who have looked at our family’s life and said that, “I could never do it”, or, “My faith is not as strong as yours”; you are missing the point. Those that know us best know how utterly weak and messed up we are. We stumble, we doubt, we wonder…yet God. He takes our mustard seed faith, strengthens our weakened knees, and sustains us through one more day. He offers these same promises to you, and I can assure you that with God on your side, you can make it through ANYTHING with absolute joy in the depths of who you are. This is the true miracle.
So friends, I ask you two simple questions: as 2014 is coming to a close, let’s not look behind us, and instead, let’s look ahead. Who is fighting your battles, and who are you fighting against? No matter what the coming days hold, I pray each of you would hold fast to the promises of God offered in His word. The promises that assure us He is holding all things together, and that He will never grow weary of fighting our battles. Let’s love one another well, and let’s especially love those who are unaware that the fight is much deeper than our flesh and digs down into our souls. And, when it seems as if we can’t do it any longer and we no longer sense His presence, let’s cling to Him all the more, in spite of our emotions, knowing that it is these moments that stretch and mold our faith the most. Sometimes, uttering the name, “Jesus”, is all that we can muster. And, oh, how sufficient that can be; for there is power in His Holy name.
Lastly, thank you to each and every one of you. I am praying for you, that the coming year would bring you to less of yourself and to more of Him. What a mighty God we serve. I am so excited to watch God continue to work in the coming year. Would you comment below and share how He has worked in your life this year? The lessons He has taught you? I would love to hear.
“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: You with Your own hand drove out the nations, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, but them You set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but Your right hand and Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You delighted in them. You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! Through You we push down our foes; through Your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But You have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to Your name forever.”- Psalm 44:1-8