On Birthdays, and Jesus, and Relationships

On my walk around the lake last night, I was thinking about the past year and talking to Jesus about it. I had no idea that this year would impact my life in the way it came to. Nor that my soul would find such rest, life, and hope in the midst of such brokenness, bitter waters, and black skies.

Friends, God brings such beauty from such ugliness. He gives life in place of death. He serves up a feast in the midst of the driest desert. But oftentimes, we cannot see it until we’ve walked much further down the road. And, sometimes, this doesn’t happen until eternity.

The best year of my life was the year I found saving faith in Jesus—the year Jesus truly captured my heart and life. But this year would be close to that one, in its own odd way. Whereas 2009 was pure, unbroken beauty, because I couldn’t see anything but Jesus; 2017 brought its own beauty, though it came crushed, hidden, and disguised in pain and tears.

Birthdays are the days I look back on the past year and reflect on all that filled up the previous several hundred days. Some years have been mostly bitter, some years have been mostly sweet. At first, this year looked like it would be all bitter, but the sweetness was just so wrapped up in the bitter as to not be able to taste it for a little while.

And when I step back from this year, this I know…Jesus is everything. And relationships are precious gifts.

Jesus

Jesus is everything because he created it all, holds it all, and it is all for him, through him, and because of him (Romans 11:36). Nothing in life even comes close to comparing to him. And nothing matters more than having a real relationship with him—where he is loved, treasured, and delighted in. Jesus is all.

This winter, when the stress and strain I had been experiencing turned into physical pain, I was confronted with the questions, “If you never had another good day in your life, would you still worship Jesus? If the pain doesn’t go away and you are never able to run again, sleep comfortably again, or simply breathe without it hurting, will Jesus still have your heart?”

He was enough for those months and he will be enough for every day after them.

And People

For most of us, if we could see our lives as a tapestry or mosaic made up of all the people who have been or are in our lives, we would likely see something so beautiful we would cry—and thank God. Relationships are such a gracious gift and one of the most precious things in all of life. It is in the context of relationships that we experience even more of Christ. Relationships with tangible human beings allow us to feel the love, affection, and kindness of Christ in ways we never would be able to if we were not in community with others.

For me, this year has been sprinkled with some very deep, grace-filled, gospel-focused, Jesus-centered relationships. Gratitude to God feels so small for the enormous blessing these people’s lives are. Such grace.

For sure, it was a year. But it was a year that was held in the sovereign hands of our Savior. He was enough and will always be enough. And being loved by him is everything.

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