Last night, Ever and I were driving back from picking up some scarves from the El Cacao co-op. It was almost completely dark except for the lights coming from the truck and the occasional light post. As we bounced along that muddy mountain road with people in the back of the truck catching a ride into town, I realized this was what I had always wanted.
I never wanted easy. I just wanted to say “YES” to Jesus.
It’s no secret this has been a very difficult year. It’s been full of heartache and hardship, disappointment and broken relationships, closed doors and hurt. But last night in that truck, something began to stir in my heart.
Or maybe it was earlier in day. My SoloHope partner-in-crime, Ashley, and I were talking about writing an end of the year letter to supporters. We both felt a bit stumped because we have been overwhelmed by the “hard” of this year. After I got off the phone with Ashley, I begin to think over this year and yes, it did not go as planned and tears were shed often but I began to realize we have been right where God wanted us.
This morning, it was as if one thing after another was confirming this realization to my heart. I read Kristen Welch‘s blog (y’all, this gal gets me!) and she opened with…
“Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, this is what God has for you? That this hard place, this battle, this struggle, this pit –it’s exactly where He wants you to be?”
Y’all, oh my goodness, my heart could have just exploded when I read that. This year has not been a failure. It has been exactly where God has asked us to be! We have been in the center of His will.
As I begin to realize this fully, my heart is overflowing with joy. No, seriously–overflowing! I’ve texted a mini-book to Ashley and am awaiting a call with my mom.
In James 1:2-3, it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
Consider it pure joy, friends! I can honestly say that up until last night, I have not considered the hardships of this year pure joy. And in the midst of the hurt, the disappointments, the slammed doors, the drained bank accounts, the broken relationships, the failed plans, it is very difficult to consider it pure joy. But look what Raechel Myers says in this She Reads Truth devotional,
“James tells us not to be so hasty to escape the faith-testing valleys because those valleys contain the fertile soil needed to produce steadfastness.”
Have you ever considered that the valleys contain fertile soil for spiritual growth?
As I look back over this year of valleys, I know it has taught me much. I know there has been growth. And I also know it has broken me. But as Ashley texted me after my mini-book text, “Our brokenness isn’t a hindrance to His plan. It doesn’t keep His purpose from being fulfilled.” Perhaps even, it enables it.
Because then, at the end of ourselves, we know there is no other we can trust fully, not even ourselves. Only Him.
This year has been exhausting. I have been tired and humbled. I have been broken and frustrated. But now, y’all, I can see. I can see that this year wasn’t a failure. I can see God answered my childhood prayers to live in the “olden days.” I can see He provided all that I needed. I can see He didn’t have me walk this journey alone. I can see His perfect timing in giving me a husband. I can see He has been training me this year. I can see that He sees me. And I can see that I’ve never been out of His sight. I can see that I have been right where He wanted me–in His will.
Sometimes it has felt like I couldn’t see Him but y’all, He never lost sight of me. Never. Not once.
And He hasn’t lost sight of you.
The valleys are hard. But even in the valleys, He is there.