This past year was one of the most challenging of my life, but in the midst of these struggles, I learned priceless things about God, myself, my family and my friends. It is not a year I would care to repeat, but like every difficult season, I am discovering I was more blessed than I imagined.
1. I rediscovered joy
After the difficult first three months, I found myself staring at depression and wondering if there would ever be a stretch of days without drama. Pam confronted me at lunch one day in late April and asked me a question that I will never forget. She asked, “Are you enjoying yourself?” My candid response was “No, I’m not.”
That started me on a journey to rediscover the joy of my calling and assignment. While reading the story of the imprisoned Paul and Silas, I found the secret to living with joy even when our outside circumstances are dire. They worshipped despite being in prison and chains. I realized that I must guard my personal devotion to Christ and never lose my passion for knowing more of Him. My joy returned by mid-June and I can actually admit that on more days than not, I am enjoying what I get to do.
2. I began writing a book
Any book of lasting value has to be birthed out of conflict, pain or revelation. Sometimes all three are required. I am not sure if I am qualified to write anything, but I am certain God has given me the ok to pen some thoughts and begin the journey. So, I began to write, pray and discuss a set of ideas that I hope will form a book that will bless and encourage others. I have an agreement with a major publisher and I expect a book to be released sometimes in 2011. The process of praying over ideas, choosing a publisher and writing down thoughts has invigorated me and I am grateful for the favor and grace along the way.
3. I helped a friend with his dream
I imagine I will remember the events of December 6th as one of my favorites of all time. It was on this Sunday that we announced that Pastor Ross Parsley would plant OneChapel in Austin, TX. Ross is one of my best friends and it is so exciting to help him launch this work and see him fulfill God’s call on his life. It is a privilege to support him and launch him with resources and a capable team.
It was a defining moment for New Life and I suspect something was implanted into our DNA that will define us for a generation. We are a Great Commission church that believes in planting other local churches with the best of our leaders.
There were lots of other great memories from 2009 – The Thorn, two epic Desperation events, praying for children who had been adopted into New Life families, the early morning prayer meetings on Thursday, serving with other New Lifers during Elevate, and a spectacular Wonderland experience on Christmas Eve. We are moving forward into deeper waters and for that, I am grateful.
A new decade dawns in a few days, and I believe the next ten years will be full of challenges, adventures, risks, and victories. Let it begin – I am ready for what is ahead.