The Last Day

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I normally take the last day of the year to write out my prayer for the new year. It usually includes a list of things I want to see God do during the upcoming year, for me or for someone in my life. I'm not sure I wrote anything down this year, not officially, anyway, so I don't have much to report in terms of request-fulfillment. More than anything this year, I think I wanted God to be the way He was to me a few years ago. I felt betrayed because of an unanswered prayer, unsure of His heart, yet very sure of His terrible Godness that was God in spite of anything I wanted.

This year, I'd like to try something different. I want to look back and remember what He did in my life. I want my eyes to be open to see what new thing He will do this year.

It's been a long year - with two moves, Pete's Bar exam and passage, a relapse deep into Lyme, new adventures into motherhood, and an encounter with God and His love that completely changed my life. I feel as though I've lived several years.

This year, I unintentionally trusted God to do the work in my life and heart to change me. For a long time, I've talked about it being His job, and always, I would step in and take over.

This year, I came to the end of myself. I had absolutely nothing left to give, emotionally, spiritually, physically. I felt as though God didn't care about me, that He would do whatever He wanted regardless of how it would affect me. I didn't want to be used by Him. I didn't want Him doing something for Himself without giving me anything I wanted. I clung to my fear of Him because it was familiar. I clenched my dreams and desires and loved ones to myself, holding it back from Him, forgetting - no, denying - His goodness.

In the past, I'd been good. I'd talked about Him. I'd served Him. I'd served others. And when push came to shove, He'd let me down with the biggest crash I've ever experienced.

At least, that was the way I saw it. And I pretty much didn't need Him if He wasn't going to make my world what I wanted it to be.

So I quit. I quit hoping, quit praying, quit trying.

And all He kept saying was that He loved me. Again and again and again. "I love you. I love you. I love you." I ignored Him. What good was His love to me?

It was mid-August when He revealed the answer to that question. The increasing depression combined with a job offer we couldn't accept that was followed by a nasty rent situation finally turned my focus heavenward. I stopped justifying God for being God and let Him have the years of pent-up rage and pain. At the top of my lungs. I screamed and screamed and screamed at Him.

He was there. And He said He loved me.

I posted last week about the long, slow sigh these last months have been for me. I will always remember the last months of 2008 as a time of discovery, renewal, revival, relationship.

God brought me to the end of me. I am less than I was, and it feels that He is so much more. After this year, I can no longer filter how He feels about me through my circumstances.

As I stand on the brink of a new year, I know what it is to be free. I am beginning to know what it means to really live. I know what it is to be loved. I know what it is to live forgiven, without condemnation. I feel my passion for Him being renewed, deepened, purified.

I know He is doing something new in me, something that makes me look at myself differently, something lends to the discovery that I have unconsciously reached outside of myself.

He is very big, and very good. He is patient, and so kind. He is gentle, and He is firm in His gentleness. He likes me.

I don't really want to ask Him for anything this year except to know Him. My work is believing that Christ is enough. That I can come through the Cross to have a relationship with my Abba without needing to add anything on the side.

I'm not going to waste time trying to crucify myself (there's not a lot of logic there). I am crucified already with Christ. I need the Gardener to prune my branch as I abide in the Vine.

Faith is not a blind leap into the dark based on the hope that something is true. Faith is substance, hard evidence. It is not something I can manufacture by gritting my teeth and trying to have more faith. It is the gift of God. It comes by hearing, Paul says, and hearing by the Word of God. The Word who became flesh, who died for us and gave us His Life. I hear the Word as He speaks through His Spirit into my heart.

On the last day of this year, I don't know what to ask. I am learning to be cautious with my desire, to wait to see what God will reveal. I am still a bit afraid to ask for more of Him because I know He can use difficult circumstances in my life to reveal Himself to me. And I am tired.

But I know what He is done, and I can say, "Come and see. Come and see what He has done. Come and see what He will do. Come and see who He is." Maybe I'll make Canaan this year.
Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.

- Ps. 66
(Image from SXC)


Leeann said...

So I've been staring at this for 15 minutes trying to think of what to say, and the only thing coming to mind is thank you. Thank you for being you and for writing you.
God's been doing lots of stuff in me during my time out here in Cali. I owe you a long email upon my return to the East.
I love you, dear friend. Happy new year.
Canaan or bust...

Hilary said...

So I guess the focus is not to ask God for something but for Him to ask us. Then we can answer and live another two years in one! Happy new year, Sauer family!

dancebythelight said...

Wow, beautifully said. I love what you say here:
"I'm not going to waste time trying to crucify myself (there's not a lot of logic there). I am crucified already with Christ. I need the Gardener to prune my branch as I abide in the Vine."

Esther said...

wow, thank you for sharing. what a wonderful time of year...digging, searching, cleaning out, trying to ready for only He knows what...

zz said...

So eloquent, so gutsy. Thank you for inspiring me in this way again.

One thing you wrote here was something God arrested me with many months ago when I was wondering what my work is, exactly. Is it motherhood? Home schooling? Improving as a wife? Missions in a deeper way? No, it was to believe Christ.

Funny how the simplest statements are most profound and hardest to "do." (For example, "if you love Me, you'll keep my commandments." We try to show Him our love with words and sacrifice and money and prayer and whatever else comes easy (or easier) than keeping His commands.

As Arnold once said, I say of your blog, "I'll be bock."

dancebythelight said...

Have you ever read "When I Don't Desire God How to Fight For Joy" by John Piper? I just started it and it is amazing and some of what you wrote here really ties in with the first few chapters of the book. It came to mind while I was reading this post. The whole point of the book is to "see that conversion is the creation of new desires, not just new duties; new delights, not just new deeds; new treasures, not just new tasks" (16).

I too am desiring to, as you say, believe that Christ is enough. That "when all the supports of human life and earthly happiness are taken away, God will be our delight, our joy" (25).

Kelly Sauer said...

Wow, thank you all for your comments! It is so encouraging to know there are others out there who want Him like this too. I really appreciate your affirmation!

Danielle, I haven't read "When I Don't Desire God." I had a friend who was reading it a couple of years ago and I always meant to get to it, but so far, it hasn't happened!

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