Moving into the New Year with Fear or Hope?
When did you last find yourself in the dark of the night wrestling with discouragement, perhaps even depression or despair?
How was your experience entering this new year? Did you step into it gingerly with trepidation and fear? Or did you bustle forward with anticipation and hope?
I guess I would have to honestly confess that my approach into the New Year mixed up a concoction of both.
There are innumerable things to fear moving into this New Year, in relationships, in business operations, in just the ongoing challenges in our daily lives, not to speak of the complicated and scary national and world conditions.
As we entered this New Year we were in process of purchasing our new home. That’s supposed to be fun and exciting, right?
We had been looking for months, checking out all possibilities that met even some of our criteria that we were looking for. We found a great property with 3 ½ acres, but it was 40 minutes from our daughter’s place. And one of our top priorities was to be near her, her husband, and the Grands. However, we also wanted enough land, preferably in the country, to be able to develop a small sustainable homestead with a large vegetable and herb garden, fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, as well as a few small livestock. But our search confirmed what people were telling us – that what we were looking for is a rare find in this area.
Through it all, topmost was our concern to be exactly where God knew was best for us, and for fulfilling His will and purposes for us at this stage of our life journey.
We were literally one hour from signing papers to begin the purchase process on the 3 ½ acres when we looked at one more property our realtor said was about to go on the market. When we walked into the home, we felt embraced from the start.
It’s not a lot of land, but it’s on a lovely extra-large property. Enough that with careful planning I can still grow my dream edible forest garden and landscaping. It’s not in the country either, but it’s near the edge of a tiny town that has very few regulations (hopefully that will continue!), so we will be able to raise a few small animals as well. We were able to negotiate for all the furniture and appliances to remain, so the house was move-in-ready for these return missionaries.
And best of all, it’s just three miles from our daughter and family!
The purchase process for our new home was moving along beautifully.
But then, less than 24 hours before closing, we received a call that there was a glitch in a detail from the appraiser’s report, which meant we didn’t have a deal after all. We already had the truck and trailer for moving the next day.
What a blow! Excitement turned to deep disappointment!
And all kinds of questions began to arise in our hearts and minds.
Our realtor said that what should be a fun experience for both buyers and sellers has often become increasingly complicated, especially with the stack up of regulations in recent years. We certainly experienced those effects in this process!
The next day in the midst of our grief we did a lot of praying for God’s guidance.
How should we move forward? Was this really God’s will for us? Or was this an indication He wanted to point us in yet another direction?
After months of searching, however, we knew that in the current market this house and property were the best deal for what we were looking for. But did God know something else that we didn’t?
Our realtor was convinced that something could still be worked out for this house and he pointed us in another direction that looked prospective. We searched out viable options as well. We finally settled with an agency that assured us that detail in the appraiser’s report was not a problem for them.
So the purchase process began again.
We learned in a new and personal way, the imperative to trust in God’s character and faithfulness during times of challenging life circumstances. We did what we’ve done in such situations before . . . to stand on God’s Word and claim His promises to His children.
Through the heart wrenching and mind mangling process, the Scripture I kept returning to was Psalm 147. Especially verse 11 ministered to my spirit, “The Lord delights in those who revere Him, in those who trust in His lovingkindness, who put their hope in His faithful love” (Sharon’s Shalom Version :-)).
During the Christmas season this time around, I was impacted with God’s merciful desires toward His children.
Through our God’s heart of mercy,
the Sunrise from on high will come upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet in the way of shalom.
~ Luke 1:78-79, TLV
So I kept praying that God would guide our feet in the “way of shalom”.
I remembered what our spiritual mentor said, “God’s grace is always sufficient, and His timing is always right” (Dr. Marvin Powers). For those who are in Christ, there’s always a way through the challenges that life throws our way, as we keep connected to Him, trusting in His faithful love and provisions. And as we continually seek and follow His will and purposes for our lives.
We also found encouragement in choosing to praise the Lord anyway, in spite of the disappointments and disconcerting uncertainties. Paul’s source of praise flowed through Habakkuk 3:17-19:
Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and there is no yield on the vines,
Though the olive crops fail,
and the fields produce no food,
the flock is cut off from the fold,
and there is no cattle in the stalls.
Yet will I triumph in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
The Lord is my strength.
He has made my feet like a deer’s,
And will make me walk on my high places.
Deep into the process, Paul reminded me of Psalm 37, where there are multiple injunctions, “Do not fret”, but “trust in the Lord.”
I was trying not to fret . . .
So as the days and weeks trudged along, and as I continued to soak in the strong words of the Lord, my soul found new healing. I actually began experiencing God’s shalom and assurances once again.
It is the case, however, that we were skittish through the remainder of the process. What new issue would crop up to derail the process this time?! It didn’t help matters either, that we continued to encounter more surprises along the way, even right up to and including the day of closing!
But finally, on January 3 we signed the mountain of papers to make this house and property our new home!
We found once again that the Lord’s lovingkindness is trustworthy. He is enough – always enough to sustain our hope in His faithful love as we continue to pursue His way of shalom.
It has become my daily prayer, and sometimes multiple times throughout the day . . .
Asking God to guide our feet in the “way of shalom”.
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