I don’t know about you, but my year has flown like crazy!
As I look back on the past 12 months, I’m overwhelmed by the warm memories, new discoveries, and growth that took root.
In many ways, 2016 was yucky…Full of uncertainty, hard decisions, and lessons learned the hard way. I made mistakes I wish I could undo, and struggled to accept God’s grace.
Still, I wouldn’t trade the hardships for anything.
As funny as it sounds, I’m thankful for the twists and complications and sleepless nights. Because God had a purpose for it all, and I’ve learned more about Him and drawn closer to Him than I ever dreamed.
Cloudy days aside, this year has had its share of sunshine! So many changes, exciting events, and new friendships lit up this year, and I can’t wait to see what happens next 🙂
All that to say, I’ve learned a ton over the months, and I’m anxious share some highlights with you.
So, here are 8 things I learned in 2016…
1) The Holy Spirit is a powerful gift
Goodness, He overwhelms me.
He never fails to convict, lead, or comfort when I need it most. I’m so thankful Jesus left His Spirit here, and that I’ve been able to experience Him so richly.
2) My plans are not God’s plans
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8, AMP).
“A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them” (Proverbs 16:9, AMP).
2016 is living proof of those verses 😉
I’m a planner. I love thinking ahead (Way. Ahead.) and scribbling my plans on sticky notes and calendars.
And, after this year, I don’t know why I even try.
I’ve played tug of war with God more times than I can count, and He wins every time.
I thought my dreams would make me happy. I thought I had life all figured out and ready to go (hilarious, right?). God probably chuckled before ripping the rug out from under me.
He has absolutely blown me away this year, and I’m so glad I’m not in the driver’s sear!
I’m learning to write my plans in pencil. To stop saying “always,” “will,” and “never.” Because God is unpredictable. His ways are not my ways. And I couldn’t be more grateful
Thank you, Lord, for doing what’s best.
3) I can never out-give God
A few weeks ago, my Dad told me something that really stuck in my brain: “Save all your money, except for giving to God and being generous.”
One of my love languages is gifts, so I’ve tried to stretch myself in that area this year.
Though I haven’t been as generous as I wish, I’m learning to give without reserve. That it truly is more blessed (and rewarding!) to give than to receive. Because no matter how much I sacrifice, God always returns more than I could imagine.
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” -C.S. Lewis
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b, NIV).
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver ” (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV).
4) God is my Rock
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and the One who rescues me; my God, my rock and strength in whom I trust and take refuge; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower—my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2, AMP).
With all the uncertainty and scary possibilities blowing up over the months, this truth is such a comfort.
No matter what disasters occur, how people change, or what this crazy world does, God is my Rock.
He never changes. He never collapses under pressure. He never moves. His promises are unbreakable.
How assuring to know that I can run to Him for safety in every storm. In Him, I am secure.
5) God’s timing is perfect
Oh, I wish I could write a book on all the times He’s proven this to me!
Never doubt His timing, friend. He orchestrates every event, each encounter, and all the details of your life in perfect time. And the results are beautiful.
His plans are worth waiting for.
6) Ingratitude is inexcusable
It’s so easy to ignore God’s blessings and let ingratitude take root. I’ve struggled with some nasty bouts of ungratefulness lately, and let me tell you: it’s miserable.
Not only does ingratitude break God’s heart, but it squashes joy.
I recently visited a Christian college for a few days, and one of the chapel messages rubbed salt in my ungrateful wounds.
The speaker’s fresh perspective-his humility in warning against the dangers of ingratitude–were incredible. Few sermons have impacted me as much as this one, and I still listen to it on occasion.
If you’re interested, you can listen to the sermon here. Best 25 minutes you could spend 🙂
7) Diligence pays off
I took my first-ever college course this semester, and I loved it. Though the course itself wasn’t hard, the amount of work and studying required was more than I’m used to.
I learned a lot about self-motivation, hard work, and focus, and I’m very happy with the results 🙂 Diligence often means setting fun on the back burner, but small victories are definitely worth the pain…And the fun stuff is so rewarding!
8) God’s grace is bigger
Sweet friend, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
His grace is bigger than shortcomings. His grace is bigger than sin. Bigger than trials, wounds, and misunderstandings.
Because Jesus died, God’s mercy is abundant. Always there. Never ending. Never failing. Always enough.
His very nature is grace.
That’s about it! (for the hightlights, anyways 😉 )
What has God taught you in 2016? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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