This was a year of disruptive change for me and my immediate world. As I look back on 2016, I see changes that were clearly positive, but also changes that appear to be not so positive.
In the positive category were new friendships that blossomed and an increasing appreciation for my relationship with God, as well as hitting the 10-year milestone of being cancer-free. My extreme busyness at work even had a positive aspect: I was forced to determine what was really important to do for God, and firmly say “No!” to the rest of the world’s seductive invitations.
I’m also reflecting on some more somber events when close friends moved across country, and other close friends seemed distant without moving. Significant joint pain and bone loss experienced since my chemotherapy years ago will mandate a return to drug therapy for osteoporosis in 2017. A vicious political campaign season has demonstrated the opposite of Jesus’ love for humankind.
I’m reading the E100- Essential One-Hundred Bible Reading Plan with my church and we’re in a section examining the life of Paul in his churches. It is amazing how much Paul’s life changed from persecuting Christians to recruiting them, but I am also struck by the hard times that Paul experienced in pursuit of God’s calling. He was stoned, chained, imprisoned and often escaped out of town only moments before an angry mob. He didn’t seem to find a great church and settle down, unlike what most of us desire. But still he persevered onward. If he’d taken the negative events in his life as a sign of God’s punishment, he would have retired to Tarsus and been a happy tentmaker. But instead Paul continued on, answering God’s call.
As I contemplate 2017, I wonder if the important signs from God are the ones I perceive as the disruptive changes in 2016. Maybe changing relationships is a good sign, and changes in health will get me out exercising more. The anger and hatred evidenced in our political process should convince us that our faith in God and Jesus have never been more needed than they are as we start the new year. I’m concentrating on being a light that makes a difference in our broken world.
I suspect that 2017 will be another year of disruptive change in my life, but rather than attempt to fortify against it, I’m going to embrace it. As I give up control, I hope to more fully recognize God’s kingdom that is already within all of us, just waiting to break free when the crack of change occurs.