Hello 2019 & Howdy High Places!
I hope everyone had a great holiday break, shared in some holiday cheer, and feels like they can close the books on 2018 in good spirits while starting 2019 with a sense of purpose and hope. Life presents us with many challenges and can throw us a lot of curve balls. It can be so hard to keep a level head and pure heart sometimes…. that’s why we need each other, need places carved out for encouragement, joy, and togetherness.
That’s what High Places been to me for some 28 years now… who you’ve been! I look back at 2018 and see so many places where I was stretched, challenged, and comforted by your words, smiles, and embraces. And when I look out at 2019, I see abundantly more of the same care and inspiration in our church family. Personally, I am excited for this New Year!
In case you couldn’t tell, I feel really, really good! A big part of that is the time off I had last week – thank you, thank you, thank you. I was way past due for some R&R and it did my soul well to take a week off. Another part of it is just closing the book on the last couple of months in 2018. Between the craft fair, the Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas program, organizing two People’s Suppers, finishing up my contract work with the Kettering Foundation, and substitute teaching, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more packed and stressful 10 weeks of work…. not even back when I worked three jobs and took 21 semester hours in college (which almost killed me!).
I spent last week in my pajamas for the most part…. finally got in the boat with my dad for a few days of fishing… I spent a bunch of time just reading, praying, and reflecting… and best of all, I had three nights with 8+ hours of sleep last week, which I don’t think has happened to me in ten years (exception: I had the flu in 2015 and slept three days straight). That’s God providing REST when I needed it most. Again, thank you so much for the week off. If you have been praying for me, please know I am feeling it!
I’m also excited for the very specific ways God has been speaking at the close of the year and into the New Year. He’s been so specific that He is even linking together parts of the last three years that I didn’t think could be connected – like a master weaver. There has been a ton of “overlaying affirmations” in 2018, that honestly fall almost directly on top of what were 2017’s “underlying insecurities.” It is almost as if God has intentionally laid down an exact affirmation last year right on top of what were for me huge challenges in 2017… His replacement reality, right atop my fears of failure and insecurity. I could go on for awhile but I won’t. Just know that God is good, and He is working!
God added beautiful souls to High Places in 2018… and brought back some beautiful familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while. God is working in High Places! I love the scene in the gospels when Jesus is confronted for healing on the Sabbath. His response is somewhat blasphemous to their ears when He says, “My Father is always working, He’s never stopped working and I am working too.” Just watching how He’s added to our fellowship this year in ways that go much deeper than the numbers is proof positive of that holy work. God continues to deepen us and grow us from the inside out.
I’m excited about 2019… I want you to be excited too. But part of how God is dealing with me lately has been learning that I cannot manufacture, coerce, or mass produce enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm in the Greek literally means, en-theo-ismos “in God, fully.”
I cannot create that for you no matter how hard I work or how excited I get. What I can do is pray for the “ismos” (full possession) of Theo (God) en (inside)… I can pray that God is in full possession of each one of us at High Places, and I will. That’s what enthusiasm means.
I pray for enthusiasm, because “God IS and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). We’re all bound for a great year, together, because God IS. And because God wants to see the best in us and in our community come to the Light of His love and grace.
Here’s to 2019… and there’s so much great news to follow in the coming weeks. See you Sunday, you won’t want to miss the first Sunday of the year!