One of my favorite sounds in all the world is the sound of water traveling over pebbles in a creek bed in the quiet hush of early winter. I may be walking with only the rustle of foliage underfoot on a trail to keep me company and the occasional songbird calling out to its friend. But when I happen upon a creek, I always feel a peaceful feeling drawing me near, and I can’t help but smile, as if I found a treasure all to myself. I love standing beside the sound of fresh water moving, seeing sunlight glimmering on the wet rocks with each turn it takes, carving a path forward. I imagine myself like a leaf cast downstream, carried by the energy of something wild and free.
This is how I am feeling, as I write to you as the year draws to a close for all of us. I am longing to find something beautiful, wild, and free within me, and I’m wondering if you’re also looking for something similar within yourself in the new year too?
The pebbles are like memories and events that have happened to me along my journey and the water is like the Holy Spirit – God’s presence touching my heart with His presence. I love reflecting on what God may be bringing to my attention. As I walk, journal, or stop to admire something out in nature, I wonder where He may be guiding me to go.
As I look back on the last ten years, I gave birth to a baby boy, suffered my first panic attack, suffered and healed from severe anxiety and emotional PTSD from childhood trauma – and I wrote two books about it all, painful memories I never thought God would ever have any use for.
But God takes the moments we’ve put to the side and He says, I see you. What no one wants, I value and find beautiful. I cherish you.
It’s a very important month for me because I turned forty-nine! So, not only are we all stepping into a new decade together in 2020, I’m also stepping into my personal jubilee year, the Old Testament celebration of rest, personal liberty, letting go of debts, and what we might call the simple life. Jubilee was celebrated at the end of seven cycles of sabbatical years, where God’s people were invited to leave the land fallow and rest. Jubilee is a special reminder to live free from burdens because God takes care of us.
It inspires all of us, whether we’re in college, a young mom, working, single, or married, to know that you are worth loving.
We’re all on the same journey, after all. We all long to be more of who God created us to be, to be God’s beloved. We all long to live free, let go more of what’s heavy, so we can embrace what really matters.
So I’ve been asking, “God, how can I live more fully and freely as Your beloved? What are the life lessons You’ve carried me through during the ‘fallow’ chapters of my life? What gives me rest, what debts (emotional) do I need to let go of, and how can I live simply and strive less?”
How about you? What kind of year are you longing for? What are the memories, events, and life lessons where God has encouraged you through the lean years?
As we approach the new year, it’s easy to start stressing and striving because of new year’s resolutions and uncertainty. Take a moment right now to rest at your proverbial quiet waters with Jesus beside you, away from noisy expectations, critical voices, or pressures of the world.
You may feel as I do, not knowing what lies ahead, not knowing which way to go, needing to hear God’s voice. Hear God tenderly whisper to you:
For I, the Lord your God, I am holding you by the right hand;
I tell you, ”Do not be afraid, I will help you.”
Isaiah 41:13-2 (NASB)
As you read this, I’ll be on a post-Christmas vacation with Eric and our two boys to spend time out in nature to enjoy God’s beauty. It’s a tradition I started in my twenties when I was single — a personal retreat that has continued now with our little family. It’s a time to reflect and give God space to touch my heart.
So, take some time, friend. Stand beside the still waters of your soul, journal some words to your loving Savior, or simply let Jesus tenderly hold you close, as He whispers, I love you.
The kind of year I am longing for? It’s one where I am free to be the real me, walking with Jesus and leaning closely to His heartbeat, resting to hear His loving words to me this jubilee year.
How does it make you feel to know God is holding you?
What is God freeing your heart to do, as He whispers, “I will help you”?
Join my newsletter in 2020, as I share my life lessons as God’s beloved in the new year to encourage you! I’ll also be teaching “How to Study the Bible to Hear God Personally”. Just sign up here for my Weekly Beloved Wellness Newsletter, and you’re all set!,
Simply let Jesus tenderly hold you close, as He whispers, I love you. #newyear #newdecade -@thebonniegray: Click To Tweet