Looking back over 2012, I don't feel much sense of achievement. It was not a good year for me, internally at least. I feel I spent most of the year fighting God, rejecting God and His ways, and looking for means of escaping this life. I did have good times in there, too. Some brief harbors of walking in step with God, or at least genuinely trying.
But it's hard to know, knowing what I know now. Most of my spiritually life has been spent trying to please God enough that He would reward me with what I want. Looking back over most of my time as an active Christian, I see that thread all throughout. I believed that by drawing closer to the heart of God, that would give me better chances of Him giving me my heart's desire. It's not hard to see why I'd mistakenly believe that. So much of what is taught for the Christian life is that the closer you draw to God the better your life will be. And the catch is – that it's true! Life is so much fuller, so much more complete the more we experience the true heart of God. But me, being the works oriented/method-following person that I am, I subconsciously believed that to mean that the more spiritually-minded I was the more I was a candidate for God's good pleasure. Hardly. So, I really did try and seek God's heart. I did seek His face and I did desire to be a woman who fears the Lord. But my subconscious motive was for gain. All for my own gain and pleasure. It's really sobering to realize that, looking back on those times that I really was so close to Christ, when my life was an all-consuming passion to know Him more. I did want to know Him more... but I also wanted the more that He could give me in return.
Hence, my fall from faith. God didn't appear to come through for me. I'd spent years building up my relationship with God, but when I felt like He didn't hold up His end of the “bargain,” I so quickly lost faith in Him. But only as one would expect, since my faith was based on a “gaining” anyway. When I didn't gain, I then questioned the whole point of God. I grew so angry, so bitter. I came to believe that God only took for us, and never gave anything in return. I believed that God was cruel and demanding, instead of kind and generous. A misconstruing of my beliefs that had intertwined itself into the core of my beliefs, hidden for so long, had come to the surface and what I chose to do with that was not pretty. And I hated myself for being so ugly.
Once you lose faith in someone, even God Himself, there's no overnight fix. I mired in that pit for months on end, finally living in a world where I laughed at the works of the Spirit, I rolled my eyes when people prayed or talked about God, I never read my bible or prayed anything except angry words of accusation. Everything about God seemed like a joke to me. Something just to laugh at and mock; I felt more kinship with the world than any of the Christians around me. And I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, I have never been so miserable. When Christ isn't the point of your existence anymore, the hopelessness is like a sucking black hole, drawing you ever closer to a blackness where there is absolutely no escape. The very fires of a black hell seemed to constantly be licking at the soles of my feet, pulling me in.
Like many, I've rather given up on making resolutions per se, but I know each of us, as we begin a new year, have hopes for this year – goals to accomplish or dreams to fulfill. I hope to master flash-photography this year, perhaps also get closer to finishing my book five years in the writing. But there are also some more significantly difficult things I must do this year. Like buy a plane ticket to a place I swore I'd never got to again and face the ghosts of my past that surround the place. I need to walk those roads and sit in the places, replacing those painful memories with new memories; memories made as I stand in victory over the past, healed and moved on, praising God for His hand over my life. There's also some friends I hope to visit, friends strong in the past, steady in the present, and Lord willing, friends forever in the future. And after much inner debate with myself, I'll come out and say it: I wouldn't mind getting married this year. *grin* But I also don't mind the safety and familiarity of the place I call home and the people I call family.
All in all, I hope for this coming year to be wondrous. And as I ponder how to wrap up this post, I'm reminded of the very title of this blog. Nothing less than bread. It comes from Matthew 7:9,11:
"Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?...how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"
The Lord gives His very best to us, whether it comes through joy or through pain. We never receive “stones” from the Lord when it's bread that we need. And as this new year unfolds, I know that whatever I face and whatever I feel, my life will indeed be...
...nothing less than bread.