Three years ago, I taped four pieces of paper to my bedroom door.
Before I face the day, I come face-to-face with a calendar from 2016.
Here we are at the close of 2018, and I’m still standing in front of these pages, stumbling out of bed and rubbing sleep from my eyes on a chilly December morning, whispering the words I know by heart.
Each month features a specific verse beautifully lettered by Jenn Tucker (the artist who took one of the quotes from Even If Not and lettered the stunning print on the far left). I’ve turned the verses (listed below) into a short statement that I repeat as I reach for the doorknob and begin the day. It goes like this:
“I can trust everything He does, for He goes before me and behind. I am merely a moving shadow and all my busy rushing ends in nothing. My only hope is found in Him.”
I said it this morning. I’ll say it again tomorrow. Through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, those words of truth have been a constant and a comfort.
When I don’t understand and I can’t see what’s coming next . . . I can trust everything He does.
When I feel unsure and alone . . . He goes before me and behind.
When I’m overwhelmed . . . He gently reminds that it’s my heart that He wants, not my performance or a completed to-do list.
When I’m worn out or searching for a light in the darkness . . . He is my hope.
For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything he does.
Psalm 33:4 (NLT)
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Psalm 139:5 (NLT)
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Psalm 39:7 (NLT)
As we look toward a new year, I’ve found myself pausing each morning and swallowing back the lump in my throat as I whisper, “He goes before me and behind.”
I desperately need that to be true. I need to believe that He’s making a way and clearing a path. I need to believe that He’s redeeming all things for good, even when I can’t see it just yet. I need to believe that He’ll be with me no matter what tomorrow may bring.
December will fade into January, and we’ll put the ornaments away as the year wraps up. We’ll look toward the future with hope or fear or a mix of the two. After all, seasons change and jobs shift and we pack houses and close our books after finals end. We say difficult goodbyes and joyful hellos and eventually winter will turn to spring as change comes again. But through all of it, He remains. His love is constant, sure, secure — unchanging.
He didn’t stay in the manger and He didn’t stay in the grave, but He did promise to be with us through every high and low. He is Emmanuel, the God who comes and stays and isn’t confined to a calendar page.
When winter melts into spring and the places that seemed barren and empty suddenly explode with life and joy . . . Emmanuel, God with us.
When the days stretch endlessly on and the sun beats down and it all seems like one long cycle of wash-rinse-repeat . . . Emmanuel, God with us.
When the leaves fall and our tears fall and everything around falls apart . . . Emmanuel, God with us.
When hope is buried deep and yet all is washed clean as the world quiets and learns to wait with anticipation . . . Emmanuel, God with us.
Bitter and sweet, laughter and mourning, darkness and light, dead ends and new beginnings and messy middles full of ordinary days — in all of it, there He is, faithful as always.
He is the way-maker and the promise-keeper and so although we may not know what’s coming our way and 2019 may hold more questions than answers, we can trust that He’ll be with us through every change.
Look before you, He is making a way. Look behind you, He has been there the whole time. Look to your right and to your left, He is with you now.
May we dare to say that He is beautiful and true, loving and kind, no matter what story the next page may tell. May we trust the unknown of the future to the God we know is authoring its pages.
Here’s to 2019, to new beginnings, fresh mercies, a blank page and an unchanging God.