Winter 2018-19

Marching Into a New Year

At the end of each year, I like to look back and remember what God has done and look ahead to what I believe He will do in the coming year. This year, I thought I’d share some of my reflections. I pray you are encouraged to reflect on how you have grown and seen God work over the past year and build anticipation for this new year.

For me, 2018 was a year of milestones: I was accepted to my dream Bible school, I graduated from high school, and I transitioned to college life in downtown Chicago. There were many highs and lows—endings and beginnings, fears and anticipations, “see you laters” to old friends and “hellos” to new ones. My perspective was challenged, and I learned a lot about myself. God taught me how to love people better and to look to Him for the strength I need to face life’s challenges.

I went on a mission trip to Uganda, an unexpected blessing toward the beginning of 2018. Through a wonderful book I read, I learned more about what it means to be a woman. In the midst of a heartbreaking situation, I learned to have faith that God will make a way when there seems to be no way. I experienced four months of living life together with other students.

Now it’s a new year, and as usual, it comes with a bit of a shock to me. The year 2018 is officially over, never to occur again. There is no way to go backward in time; what’s done is done, forever in the books of history. Whether I’m ready or not, 2019 is underway, brimming with new adventures and challenges and joys. I look ahead with anticipation, along with a streak of apprehension. What difficult circumstances will I face this year? What painful relationships? What discouragement? What heartbreaks?

Greater than my fears is my excitement to see what God does in 2019. I know He is going to continue growing me, strengthening my relationships, showing me who He made me to be and helping me become more like Him. What adventures will I have this year? What new friends will I make? How will I be encouraged in my faith? What victories will I celebrate? What will I discover about God’s character? How will I encounter His love in new ways?

The possibilities are endless in my mind, but I know my God already knows what 2019 will hold. I have goals: respond to emotions in a healthy way, encourage, explore, plug in to a Chicago church, eat healthier. But my plans may or may not align with those of the Author of Life, whose ways are higher than my ways and whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

What are you looking forward to in this new year? What are your reservations about diving into what God has planned for you? Undoubtedly, God sees the good, the bad, and the ugly, the laughter and tears that are to come.

Years ago, one of my pastors said that the best is always in front of us. Even if a year of our lives seems to be the best there can be, not to be outdone by any event in the future, we must always keep looking ahead. God wants to keep growing us, keep teaching us, keep leading us into deeper relationship with Him. Ultimately, He will take us to be with Him for eternity—and what could be better than that?

My friend, don’t be afraid to step into this new year. Take a deep breath and trust that our good, kind, all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God is in control, never surprised by anything. No matter what joys or heartaches 2018 held, enjoy this opportunity for a fresh start. Renew your energy, put on the armor of God, gather your courage, and march on, eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of your faith.

Happy New Year, happy New Year
The God who made everything
Is remaking everything
The God who made everything
He says I’m making all things new

Steven Curtis Chapman