I hope you’ve had a chance to read my first post in this series. If not, I encourage you to do so. Before moving on to the next step in this process, I wanted to give you an update on my “reflection” step. I did say I’d open up my journey to you, so, here you go.
First of all, let me say, it took me a day and a half to fully process reflecting on 2018. I share that because we can have a tendency to want to rush through this whole process. Patience. Remember, this is first and foremost a revelatory process and revelation is always relational. It’s not just a question and answer. It’s a conversation. Sometimes, steps move more quickly than at other times. But sometimes, there’s a greater lesson God wants to reveal in the process itself than there is in simply getting to the end result.
2018 was a hard year for me. Looking through my calendar, journals, photos etc. didn’t take long. But as I said in the last post, before filing a year away, I like to come up with a “headline” for the year. One that is not just limited to what I “think” the year was, but a headline I know lines up with how God saw it – from His perspective.
Many of us ask God for a “word” at the beginning of the year, and that’s good. I do that too, and I’ll be sharing how I go about that in this blog series. But remember, He’s the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. I learned long ago to not just make a practice of seeking Him for a word at the start of the year, but to also come back and let Him be the final “amen” at the end of it.
Once I reflected on my journal entries, dreams, photos, calendar, etc. I asked God to help me zoom out and give me revelation of what He saw. I asked for a phrase or a word, a song, or even a visual picture that would help encapsulate the year. It didn’t come in minutes (as we often hope it will) and I’ll be honest, it takes great restraint to not shrug your shoulders and just move on when you haven’t gotten the answer you’re waiting for. But instead, I pressed in harder, praying, “Open Your heart to me, God. I won’t move forward until You’ve spoken.”
And then finally, I got it: 2018 was a year of pruning. Deep, deep pruning. First, I got a visual of a freshly cut “wound” on a pruned tree limb. It had intentionally been cut so that it could become more fruitful. But then, I saw a wooded area. Full of pruned trees. Similar to the one behind my house. In the fall and winter seasons, when trees are stripped bare and old branches have fallen off, (nature’s way of pruning) you can see so deep into the woods. You can see what is really there. Driving around these back country roads Steven and I often spot barns and homes we never even knew existed. Because what the fullness of Spring and Summer conceals, Fall and Winter seasons expose. That’s what seasons of pruning do. They expose what is there and maybe even what some of our branches have been leaning on for support.
And herein lies the power of hearing God’s perspective. Because in so many ways, yes, I felt somewhat stripped in 2018. Like I kept going back to square A. Taking steps forward only to take steps backwards and start all over again. And some places cut pretty deeply. Pruning can feel like that. It can feel like loss. And trust me, the enemy will do everything he can to capitalize on those moments to try and convince you, “You should be further along than this…”
Now, I know not everyone’s year was a year of pruning. But I share this because I hope you can see how having the proper perspective is so important. Not just to how we close out and file away 2018, but also in preparing us and setting us up – helping us see the posture we need to take – as we continue to search God for the New Year.
Now that I have understanding and have His headline, I’m prepared to receive what is next. And this is what gets me ready to move onto the next step in the process I’ll be writing about: Knowing What Season and Time You’re In. So stay tuned! But remember, if you haven’t taken time to reflect yet, please do that. It’s key to your preparedness!