When I was younger, I used to go to a family New Year’s Eve party every single year. We would go to some random family member’s house and I would spend the day running around with my cousin’s. We would have a huge family dinner and the adults would stand around catching up on the big wins and losses of the year. The main event though, was turning on the TV and tuning into whatever station was broadcasting the New York City festivities and watching the ball drop. Of course, because I was a small child, by the time is was about 7 or 8pm I was ready to call it a night. I would find some couch, or corner where I would sit for a second and tell my parents that I was going to rest for a little bit, so I wouldn’t “miss it.” Resting my eyes for a second always turned into hours of napping. And, heartbreakingly, those hours of napping always turned into me missing the ball drop. Every. Single. Year. And I would always ring in the New Year with tears streaming down my face.
As I got older, it got a little bit easier for me to stay up until midnight. But, being the too-cool pre-teen I was, spending New Year’s Eve with my family was not what I wanted to be doing. I had a friend who, every year that I was in middle school, hosted a New Year’s Eve party. Her parents decorated the house and invited all of us teenyboppers over to spend the night. I was never allowed to go, which I thought was surely going to ruin my life. I didn’t want to “miss it.”
Then in High School, I had a neighborhood friend who would invite me to stroll around downtown Raleigh on November 31st. To my parents there was something off-putting about letting their high school daughter walk around the city all night (imagine that) and I had to stay home. I’m guessing by now you are getting the gist of things and can guess that I was so angry because I thought I was going to “miss it.”
For at least the first 16 years of my life I spent the turn of the year thinking I was missing out on something big. That has seemed to be the theme of my New Year. Every. Year. And recently, I’m starting to think I was missing something. Something more than a TV program, a middle school party, or a night downtown – I was missing a chance to revel in God’s goodness.
Before you stop reading and before you think this is another one of those cliché, “count your blessing’s” blog posts – let me explain. I stepped into 2017 and all I could think was, “dear sweet Jesus, thank you for getting me here.” Ever been there? In that weird, “I don’t know if I made it all the way, but I guess I did because I’m here,” frame of mind. Well, that’s me coming into 2017. I stumbled into this New Year with full hands and with a tired heart. As with every year, 2016 was a year of mountaintop highs and seemingly rock bottom lows. My heart was filled and my heart was broken. I felt both joy and pain. There were times of incredible community and times of loneliness. Mountaintops and valleys, people. I saw them all. But what I also got to see was a glimpse into just how incredibly faithful, consistent, dependable, unswerving, unchanging, trustworthy and steadfast the God we serve is. I saw grace. And not only did I see it – I found myself so overwhelmed with it that tears are coming to my eyes just thinking about it. I was up to my ears in the stuff. There was not one single time in my year, mountaintop or valley, that God did not use to drive me into a deeper (and so much sweeter) dependence on Him.
So I want to challenge you. Not to count your blessings (even though I guarantee there are many), but to count God’s grace (yes - even when your life seems hard, yucky and broken). Trace His hand of faithfulness in your life. I don’t know what His grace has looked like in your life – maybe its shiny, new open doors or slammed-shut ones, maybe it’s healing or maybe it’s pain. But seriously, people. Do. Not. Miss. This. Our God is a God of abundant, overflowing, grace-giving. I am starting to think, that every New Year, God has been tugging on my heart and saying, “Kieran, look at how I have been working on your life. Don’t miss it!” And when I look, sure enough, the God of the entire universe is there – present and moving.
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16
Kieran // @kcgarv