Photo By Shala Gean
I have found myself saying lately, “This has been the worst year of my life, but has also been the best year of my life.” How is that possible?
January 14, 2017 will forever be a day that divides one section of my life from the woman I was to the woman I am now.
The woman I was… was lost that night when the Lord called my husband, Cody into glory.
This has been a year of pure trust in the Lord. Though as a Christian I should have been living in that trust with the Lord for years now. But I wasn’t. Experiencing the disappearance of Cody and going through the gut wrenching 5 days of the search before his body was recovered from the lake… Those 5 days were dark and scary. Those do not seem sufficient enough words to describe it. Breathing was agony. But I’m thankful that his body was recovered. So many families are not that fortunate when a loved one disappears. For that I will be forever grateful. That was the beginning of the Trust I found in The Lord.
Walking this season as a widow—(I despise the title of widow by the way)… The Lord has ‘wooed’ me to Him in such an eternal romance type of way. To say I am head over heels in love with Jesus is an understatement. To witness Him take such brokenness and despair and begin to remold all of the broken pieces together again for His Glory—has changed me from the inside out. I don’t want to be the person I was the day before deep tragedy struck my little world. I realize how selfish I was. I was living to build ‘Jessica’s Kingdom’…not Gods Kingdom.
I didn’t look at every faucet of my life through the lens of Christ. I looked at it through the lens of Jessica. I was living inwardly, pleasing myself. Though as long as I’m on this side of glory—I will struggle daily with fighting my flesh—but I can say it has definitely gotten easier to get myself off my mind.
I have learned to enjoy the simplicity of life. I find such beauty and laughter in the smallest of things. I have learned to love more selflessly, to cherish the people I care about. I don’t want to take people for granted, ever. Because they may not be here tomorrow. We never get a better chance to grow relationships and friendships than the present. I have learned to truly enjoy and be thankful for the mundane of everyday.
In May of this year the Lord pressed upon my spirit the revelation that all of the trials I have faced in life and may face in the future… are not about me.
Every trial we encounter in our earthly lives is to ultimately glorify God.
A couple of months ago while preparing to speak at a women’s conference, I came across a note in my journal. It was Cody’s handwriting. He had written notes from a sermon by Jason Harris at Evangelistic Temple on October 2, 2016. These words are full of truth and are almost prophetic for me to read after his death.
“God is sovereign over all suffering. All suffering infinitely exists for God’s glory. God’s aim in your suffering is to take your mind off yourself so you rely completely on Him. Suffering in the life of a Christian is an opportunity to show the world that Christ is worth more than life itself. The proper response to suffering is Faith and even Joy. Suffering points us to the HOPE we have in Christ. God is a good, good Father.”
Every single word above is pure truth and is exactly what the Lord has revealed to me this year. Joy and peace can be found in the midst of the darkness of this world. The Love the Lord has showered on me and my daughter this year has been so real and humbling. It has changed the way I view the body of Christ. There is power in prayer and power in Gods people coming together in unity while standing in the gap on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is power when we surrender everything to the Lord. For me this consists of surrendering the grief, the guilt, the bitterness, all of my desires, my dreams, my fears… letting go of it all. I have to do this daily. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. I have to trust God that He will continue to grow beauty from the ashes. I have no doubt He is sovereign. I have no doubt He has a great plan for me. He has a great plan for you. I am praying Jeremiah 29:11 over all that are reading this, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I am excited to bring in a new year. I am excited at what the Lord is doing. I am looking forward to growing more in Christ, growing more in love, growing more into the woman the Lord has called me to be. Though this has been by far the most trying and saddest year of my life, it has been the most God seeking, and love abounding year of my life as well. When we have no place else to run but the arms of Christ—oh the love He lavishes on us.
I will forever be grateful for 2017.
As Danny Gokey sings, “Tell your heart to beat again. Close your eyes and breathe it in. Let the shadows fall away. Step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been. And tell your heart to beat again.
Beginning—Just let that word wash over you. It’s alright now. Love’s healing hands have pulled you through. So get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the sun.
Your story is far from over and your journey’s just begun…”
I pray 2018 is a year of restoration, a year of deep peace and joy overflowing.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
It’s time to tell your heart to beat again…
I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.