So, we come to the end of another year...2009. What a year! There were challenges and triumphs. There were heartaches and celebrations. God has blessed us so this year with His faithfulness and provision. He carried me through back surgery. We were blessed with a granddaughter. I have re-connected through Face book with many friends I knew from church and school growing up in Texas. It's been so fun to catch up with many of them. In fact, if any of you are reading this post, I would just like to thank each of you who have encouraged me and prayed with me through this year. I would love to have a reunion at my house for you all!
But I always find myself at the end of a year, so thankful to have it over and done with and ready for a "fresh start" in the new year.
But does it always work that way?
Have you ever wondered why all the New Years Eve celebrations have pictures of old men representing the current year and a little baby representing the new year coming in? I believe the point they are trying to make is that one life has ended and a new one has begun. That's kind of depressing to me. I have decided to think of it a little more like cleaning out a closet....out with the old and in with the new. Throw out all that old stuff that you don't like anymore, or doesn't fit anymore, or just doesn't seem to be working for you and start fresh. A new day...a new beginning...a new start.
But how many times do we start "fresh" and fill that closet with the same stuff we had before?
Our "new" beginning isn't so new, is it? Have you ever looked at that closet and thought "I don't wear any of that stuff, I should get rid of it." But then, you don't because if you threw it out....your closet would be empty? I have a closet full of clothes I never wear because they don't fit anymore or I just don't like them. Some were clothes that were given to me and I feel bad about getting rid of them. So, they just sit there filling up my closet. Because if I got rid of them...what would I put in their place?
What's in your closet?
*Is it full of old promises waiting to be fulfilled? Promises made to you? Promises you've made to someone...or perhaps even to yourself? Promises you've made to God about things you will do or things you will give up?
*Is your closet full of expectations? Are they expectations you have put on someone else? Perhaps they haven't done or become the thing you had "expected" them to do or be. Or perhaps you haven't become the person that someone else has expected you to be. Expectations you have put onto yourself?
*Is your closet full of regrets and disappointments? Disappointments in what you have or haven't done? Disappointment in God for not having done what you asked or expected of Him? Disappointment in not being where you thought you would be by now? Regrets for mistakes made or missed opportunities?
So, let's clean out that old closet.
Let's take the old promises and look at them again. First of all, who made the promise? If it's someone you love, give them grace. We all make promises and do our best to fulfill them. But sometimes things just don't work out the way WE plan them. If it's a promise God has made you...his promises are yes and amen. They will come to be. But we must wait for HIS time....not ours. Put the promises others have made to you back in the closet and wait with grace and patience. I have some things in my closet that I'm holding onto "just in case". Those promises may still come to be. But take God's promises out and wear them. Remind Him of His Word and in doing so, remind yourself of His faithfulness.
Next come the expectations. Oh my goodness...most of those expectations are just garbage!! Get rid of them! I have come to learn in the past few years that I will NEVER live up to the expectations of others...either real or imagined. Did you know you can imagine expectations of others? And sometimes the expectations we put on ourselves are so unrealistic, we set ourselves up for failure. There is only one person whose expectations I am required to live up to...my Father's. He is the only one who can lay out the standard to which I am expected to work towards. And I am so grateful that His grace and mercy cover my failures and inadequacies. Look at the expectations in your closet, evaluate them,throw out the unrealistic ones and don't go get anymore!
Now let's go through those regrets and disappointments. What is regret? Let's think of it as that favorite blouse that you saved up for months to purchase. It's a beautiful deep royal blue and you look amazing in it! But, the first time you wore it, you decided to start a load of laundry before you left the house. And while adding bleach to the wash you dropped the bottle and the bleach splashed all over the front of your blouse. Now it's ruined!! You'll never be able to wear this blouse! Oh, the disappointment, "but...I can't throw it away! I just bought this blouse - it's brand new! I'll just put it here in the closet." Why? So you will be constantly reminded of your mistake? Of your disappointment? You can't fix it; you can't change it; you can't reverse it. We don't need to carry around our "bag of regrets" as my sister calls them. You will, unfortunately, have enough people in your life to remind you of your mistakes and failures. You don't need to do it yourself. Throw them out!
So now that we have cleaned out the closet, what do we keep? Well, we have the promises of God, the expectations of God, His robes of righteousness, the armor of God that He has give each of us. We have the hope and future that He has for us. Let's add one more thing....Dreams.
I have a confession to make. I don't dream anymore. I used to dream....don't all little girls? But there were so many of those dreams that never came to be so I just stopped.
There is a sweet young lady who attends my church that I have had the pleasure of knowing and watching grow over the last 20 years from a young teenager to a precious, loving wife and mother. In fact, it was her blog that encouraged me to begin my own. Her post this week was entitled "Dream a little dream with me" and it touched a spot deep within me.
Walt Disney wrote "a dream is a wish your heart makes." I guess all dreams do originate in your heart. Psalm 37:4 says, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Can you imagine what would happen without dreams? Automobiles started with a dream. Computers began with a dream. Airplanes, space travel, television, telephones....all began as a dream someone had to improve our way of life.
What if Joseph had never dreamed? Yes, he was a bit young and foolish and boasted to his brothers about his dreams. But I imagine as he sat in that pit, and later as he sat in that prison cell, those dreams were what got him through each day. God had given him a glimpse of his future and the greatness he was promised.
Dreams are those things we hope for; and faith is being sure of what we hope for. So, if our faith is from God, then wouldn't our dreams be from God? I've had dreams of what I wanted to be, or what I wanted to do. But, unlike Joseph, I have not hung onto them as I should have. I have boxed them up and stuck them on a shelf in the back of my closet. Some of them I have tossed out with the old.
As I said earlier, the end of a year always brings a thankfulness that it has ended and the anticipation of starting over. All things new! Lay it all down...put it behind you. But then, I found myself in 2 Corinthians 8.
"So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands."
Just when I thought I could end this year and start new, Paul tells me to finish what I have started. Go back to the dreams I've been given and continue to work on them. Though some of them haven't come to fruition yet, God has given me what it takes to finish; to keep at those dreams.
So, Lissa, this post is dedicated to you. Thank you for reminding me that I need to dream. As I look over the past year and "clean out my closet" I will remember those dreams and include them. I will take them out of the box and put them with my other "clothes". So each day, as I put on my robes of righteousness, my belt of truth, my shield of faith; as I carry with me the promises of God and walk in HIS expectations, I will take with me my dreams. And together I will "Dream a little dream with you".
To all my friends and family, I love you all!
Happy New Year.