Happy New Year 2021

It seems the whole world has given a collective sigh of relief to see 2020 reach its end. With all the isolation, distancing, and even divisiveness, have we yet not all gone through something together, something understood, somehow bonded together and unified in our struggles, no matter how we have each experienced it differently and been uniquely impacted? Here we stand, at the start of a new year, with new anticipation, new hopes, new expectations. Thanks be to God!

Throughout 2020, I couldn’t help but also see the beauty. Suffering and hardships give us gifts, right? Or rather, God, through suffering and hardships, gives us gifts—ways we grow that couldn’t have happened any other way, compassion for others we wouldn’t have had otherwise, insights we never would have found. By God’s grace, we find Him in our struggles, and we find He is sufficient! When the ground beneath us shakes, underneath are his everlasting arms. We have a firm foundation.

I give thanks for the blessings of 2020 in our family: unexpected time together, a new book and book contract, expanded employment, a graduation, successful surgeries, health, safe travels, friendships, God’s faithfulness to us, His provisions, His love and kindness, His mercies and grace, and so much more.

For a number of years now, I have picked a word for the new year. Each year, just when I think I’ll give that up, it seems the new next word comes right on time. This one is most unusual and not what I would have expected: Fight.

I am beginning a new Bible study on Hebrews 11, and Trillia Newbell wrote in the introduction, “Life is a fight for faith to believe and trust God.” I wrestled with that statement a few moments. A fight? Doesn’t God fight for us? Doesn’t the battle belong to the Lord? But there is a battle, and we are to recognize it. We are to put on the full armor of God, even if we then are simply told to stand! “What are practical ways you fight for faith?” she asked. This seems to speak of an active faith—yes, dependent on the Spirit of God and God’s strength. The fight sometimes may simply be to be still and let Him fight, to be still and know that He is God.

In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul exhorts Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…”

And the truth of Exodus 14:14 is always powerful. As the Israelites stood at the edge of the Red Sea, being pursued by the Egyptian armies, Moses said to the fearful people: “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” They then took the action to cross the Red Sea on dry ground as the Lord led them.

One thing the Lord profoundly showed me back in 2005 is that He is my Rock and strength. I had too long lived my life in the power of my own strength, in my own logic—not understanding the Spirit-filled life and how to live in HIS strength. Life changed dramatically when that truth became understood, with the subsequent surrender to His will and ways.

Yet, God does call us to holy living. There is intentionality involved in our faith. “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). It’s a both/and, not either/or, and somehow they beautifully work together! I want to discover the balance of these seemingly competing yet consistent commands/truths.

So I want to fight to delight in God.
I want to fight to pray when I lack focus.
I want to fight to be still when I feel restless.
I want to fight for daily time in the Word to read and study.
I want to fight to journal/write and process the truth He gives.
I want to fight my feelings, my fears with truth from God’s Word.
I want to fight to believe, eyes on Him.
I want to fight the good fight of faith

All in the strength that God supplies, by His Spirit, in His power, in His name, for His glory, for my good.

These are early, limited reflections. No doubt, the coming year will bring more insight as I study this.

I am also using my calendar to write down a meaningful verse each day to reflect on that day, to perhaps memorize, hoping these “morning moments” taken from my time in the Word will help strengthen what I’m discovering.

So I welcome in 2021, grateful for the opportunities He will give us. May we each go forward to love and follow Him in the strength that He provides, to fight the good fight of faith!

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