I just realized this past week that this is my last post of the year. Ackpth! Where did the year go? Somehow the new year sneaked up on me…again. Pretty soon people are going to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions again. So I guess it’s time for me to revive my own New Year custom, isn’t it?
As a kid I bought into the New Year’s resolutions idea. It was fun, and at least one sister and I would come up with noble resolutions that we wanted to do that year. Resolutions that we promptly forgot about three days later. Then, about the time I hit my teens I realized just how stupid that was. I was promising to do something and then promptly turning around and breaking my promise as soon as I conveniently forgot about it. (Not to mention they were always stupid resolutions in the first place. XD) So, at the dawning of 2011, I came up with a new yearly custom instead.
Let me back up a tad. God had already been working a deep, gnawing hunger within me by that time. I had spent at least two years desperately trying to find Him on my own, doing the things I knew to do to get close to Him, but with no success. I was too afraid to ask anyone else for help, so I lived in silent desperation instead. Come 2011, I had realized that I couldn’t do this on my own. I couldn’t get close to God by myself, no matter how much I wanted to. Praise be to God, He initiated a thought in my mind – I couldn’t teach myself to draw near to God, but I could ask the greatest Master Teacher of all time to teach me instead.
So, when New Year’s Day, 2011, came along, you couldn’t find me making silly resolutions. Instead, I made a quiet request to the Maker of the Universe: “Lord, please teach me whatever You want me to learn this year, because I don’t know where to start.” That year was the beginning of something far bigger than I could have ever imagined.
2011 brought with it a nasty drought, and a corresponding dryness in my soul as I questioned why we couldn’t have rain. It sounds insignificant, but to a 14-year-old who had only just asked God to teach her it was confusing and discouraging to say the least. I struggled with bitterness at the taunting clouds that thundered but never dropped any rain. I questioned God; why didn’t He answer my prayers? I didn’t understand that the drought was only a tiny part in a much bigger picture. God was using the drought to prepare me for the breakthrough.
In 2012 I renewed my request for God to teach me. It must have been His mercy that I did, because I don’t think I sensed enough progress to try it for another year without His prompting. Over the summer of 2012 some girls from our church got together and studied some of Bill Bright’s stuff. God used that study to make the breakthrough in me that I so desperately needed. Interestingly, the day after we finished the last study for the year, my sister Noelle wrecked with a semi and ended up in the hospital and rehab for two months. (I’ve talked about that before.) If it had not been for that summer study, I don’t believe that I would have handled Noelle’s wreck well at all. Yet, by God’s grace He had prepared me just enough beforehand, and I felt – for the very first time in my life – that He was holding me, and that He would get me through it, no matter what happened to Noelle or my family.
Those first two years taught me something I will never forget for the rest of my life. They taught me that when you really want God to teach you, He will take that request seriously. It also taught me that learning from God is never easy. In fact, at least in my life, it has meant many more difficult situations than I ever had before I asked. A drought, a wreck with major relationship conflicts tangled up in the aftermath, health struggles, even depression and loneliness. A stranger looking at my life might say that these four years (2011-2014) must have been the worst years of my life. But he would be wrong. That they have been the hardest years of my life is certainly true. But more than that, they have been the richest, most incredible years of my life.
Asking God to teach you is dangerous. You’re giving up your right of control and telling God that He can use whatever He wants to teach you whatever He wants. You could be asking for trouble. And to someone who does not understand the Christian walk, it sounds pretty stupid. But in fact, it is the most wonderful thing to surrender to the control of the only One who ever really had control in the first place. To lay down your ideas of what you have left to learn and learn what the Master Teacher knows you need to learn. It is a glorious thing to learn from the very Creator of the Universe Himself! Of course it’s not ‘safe’. He’s not a tame lion. But He is good, and He is faithful. Asking God to teach you is not something you should take lightly, because God does not take it lightly. But if you honestly want to learn and grow in your faith, I don’t know of any other better way to do that than to welcome the teaching of the greatest Teacher of all time. He wants to teach you in 2015. I plan to ask Him to, and I challenge you to do so as well. It will be hard, I can promise you that. But it will also be the most worthwhile thing in the world, far more than any New Year’s resolution. 🙂