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.
This post went live at (in)courage this morning. I’d love for you to click over and leave a comment there! For additional Scripture references, take a few moments this week to read through the following: Exodus 13:21, Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 45:2, Isaiah 52:12, Psalm 136:16, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 28:20, Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 13:5
One of the ways I intentionally practice appreciating the beautiful but so-very-ordinary stuff of real life and regular days is by keeping track of what I’m learning. It’s far from complicated, but somehow jotting down notes of the small, the sacred, and everything...read more
I didn't want to write this book. I put it off, came up with a dozen reasons why it wasn't the right timing, and told God that He had picked the wrong girl. His response was kind but clear: to do anything else would be disobedience. Three years ago today, I opened a...read more
No one stood up when the credits began to roll. Whispered wows mixed with the sound of sniffling as we reached for tissues, blinked our eyes, and stayed for just a moment longer. Like so many others, I grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Childhood memories...read more
If you're empty, exhausted, or overwhelmed today, this is for you. To be honest, I wrote it for myself because I desperately needed a reminder of hope in the midst of the crazy. I took this picture of limestone and teal, of bright red flowers blooming tall, two years...read more
You are talented. Before you shake your head, deny those words, and click the little red X on this page, let me ask you a question. Do you remember the parable of the three servants who were given different amounts of talents? I’ve been thinking about it recently,...read more
Do you see the mountains? They were clear as day in person, but I just about missed them as I scrolled back through my photos from Israel. You may have to squint, but they’re right there in between the blue water and the blue sky. And forgive me for turning everything...read more
Slowly but surely, I've started sharing pictures and stories from Israel. After completely filling up Instagram Stories every day while we were there (I make no apologies, and also -- big thanks to the hundreds of you who followed along and replied with excitement at...read more
Hey hey, a little note before the post to say that it'll be quiet here for the next few weeks because... I'm on my way to Israel by way of London! I leave this afternoon and will be, fingers crossed, posting to Instagram often throughout the trip. If I'm able to...read more
Just over a month ago, I shared the news that I signed an important contract, becoming one of ten new (in)courage contributors. Today, my first post as a contributor goes live, and I'd love for you to read the excerpt below and then join me over at (in)courage for the...read more
2018, y'all. It is filled to the brim with incredible books releasing. For the first time, I've split the Can't-Miss List into three posts: January-April, May-August, and September-December. Every time I curate a new list, I'm amazed at the number of shares, pins,...read more