Lately I have been really pressing into what 2017 holds for my life. The adventures that it will hold for me in my walk with Jesus, my career, friendships and family, and the words that will guide me along the way as I live this magnificent year. In that time, I felt prompted to rewind and reflect on 2016. It’s often my practice to keep my eyes fixed on what’s ahead of me, and not reflect on the lessons, mistakes, glories or celebrations from what I just walked through. So I changed the habit and dove into last year- which was difficult and beautiful at the same time. For me, 2016 was a crazy mix of pain and depression- and triumph and joy. Processing a lot of change, working through heartbreak, and pressing forward into new healthy mindsets, I often found myself face flat down in the arena caked in mud and gasping for dear life.
I think a lot of people are right there with me; finding themselves in the aftermath of a challenging year that sparked both depression and joy, stretching and strengthening. And now, entering into a fresh calendar, we are tempted to throw out 2016’s and just keep moving forward, attempting to forget what we felt and experienced last year. But we shouldn’t aim to forget- we should aim to forge through the disappointment to find the nuggets of gold that we carry with us for our whole lives. In the time I spent with the Lord, He reminded me of two hopeful words that changed my perspective of last year, and have absolutely transformed how I view 2017. I think they can greatly bless your journey as well.
The first word the Lord brought to my attention was transition. 2016 was a year of transition for many, many people. Scripture continually weaves in the theme of transition. There are many forms of that word in Hebrew, but there are three basic interpretations:
- Ma’avar- “cross-over” or “pass through.”
- Shinui- “change,” or “change wisely”
- Chiluf- “move on,” essentially to exchange for better in a healthy way.
Scripture carries this ‘crossing over’ and ‘moving on into better ways’ theme through the Old and New Testament. God continuously asks His people to hold onto Him and take a leap of faith and cross into a new way of life or a new season. From the Israelites crossing the red sea, Peter crossing over the side of the boat, or David crossing the battle line to take on Goliath, God has adventures and blessing on the other side, if His people are faithful in the transition.
Here’s the thing- we don’t do well when transition takes longer than we think it should. 2016 may have been difficult because we were uncomfortable in the crossing over, and the transition was longer than we anticipated. When we think of stepping out on faith, changing our lives for the better, or moving on into a new season, we immediately think that we will move quickly from A to B. We often don’t consider that the ‘to’ could take a day, month or even a whole year. So when our days turn to months, our months a whole season, then a whole year, we freak out because we just want to be at B, and our internal clock ticks louder and louder, screaming at us that our lives are passing by and we aren’t at B yet! The culture today also yells in our ears that transition isn’t comfortable, and therefore, not an acceptable place to be. But if the Lord calls it good, and places tremendous value on those seasons- we should too. Life isn’t about getting from A to B. Let me say it again, life is not about getting from A to B. It’s about the entire journey, A, to, B. Every single part. If last year was a year of the ‘to’- the transition of change and crossing over, we should seek to find the beauty in that time, because there is much of it that will be found.
That leads into the second thing the Lord reminded me of, which was actually a word he showed me when I was climbing out of a depression in the fall of 2016. The word was ‘remnant.’ It is somewhat of an intimidating word because there are so many complex meanings regarding the nation of Israel and prophecies about Jesus, and is used over 540 times throughout the Bible. But the core meaning of remnant means “what is left over,” or “a holy seed” (when referring to Jesus). One of the references is to people who have survived a major disaster, like the storylines of Noah and his family after the flood and the Israelites after they were cast from their Promised Land. The remnant is what is left over after disaster, a shaking out of the bad fruit, and refinement from impurities. So that what is left will be holy and pleasing to the Lord, and will be used to multiply again in the future, but this time, good fruit.
I have heard a lot of people say that 2016 was a ‘waste’ or it was a ‘disaster,’ or possibly so disappointing that they don’t want to even remember it. Now, they question how they can ‘make up for it’ this year, and feel that guilty surge in 2017 to somehow redeem what was left undone last year. But I honestly feel like the Lord is calling us to pull up the remnants of last year, to hold them and cherish them, because from the shaking and purifying of our transitional season will produce beautiful multiplied fruit in years to come. We may have walked through the fire last year, faced heartbreak and loss, but we must know that the Lord purifies our lives from the things that are holding us back from walking into a new season. He shook up our stories to remove the baggage that we clung to for so long- and now He calls us into new heights where we can now freely maneuver, because we are lighter.
We now must gather our remnants from last year, so we can hold the good and holy seeds that will bring harvest this year.
Last year you lost relationships- but the Lord gave you the remnants of the healthy ones to continue to invest in.
Last year you lost a job- but it gave you the remnant of time to pour into the dream that He has been calling you to for years.
Last year you had your world shaken by depression or doubt- but the Lord raised up within you the remnant of godly mindsets and strength to endure hard things.
Last year you may have experienced loss, heartbreak, or pain- but the Lord promises to show us the remnants that will be the seeds to cherish and plant.
As we press into 2017, we must remember and praise God for last year’s transition season. We must throw out the lie that any part of our life is a waste! And we must sort through the aftermath of 2016, search through the rubble to discover the amazing remnants that God has refined, restored and determined to redeem in the future.
*Definitions and meanings from BlueLetterBible.org and Studylight.org.