For all that you have done.
One of the trending memes on social media is a picture of something crazy (a dumpster fire, a man driving a car out of control, a woman with her hair messed up like she was attacked by a rabid raccoon) with the caption “2019 is almost over and all I gotta say is what the hell was that?!” If it is hard to imagine the meme, I created one for our purposes…and feel free to use it:
If you say heck, hell, or fudge, I can relate to you. Switching careers was easy and difficult. I continued my journey from youth pastor to teaching math. While I realized there were similarities, I was faced with new challenges. The hardest challenge was losing my dad in May. He was my best friend and moral compass. I realized too late that there was still so much that I needed to learn from my dad. The pain and heartache took me down a difficult road that mentally and emotionally I am still climbing out of. Even as I sit here typing, my eyes well up with tears and the lump comes back to my throat.
The most recent challenge has been becoming who God needs me to be in this moment. I look around, and while we see more people standing up for our LGBTQIA+ friends as well as our friends of different races and ethnicity, I cannot help but feel there is amiss. This year, I stepped up as an ally for our LGBTQIA+ friends, sat and heard many stories from people about how the world is changing and they are afraid of the future, and faced backlash from friends and people (silent and otherwise). The loudest of these criticisms of my new stances and ponderings came with a question that still makes me laugh as well as provoked much thought,
“Do you even follow Jesus anymore?”
I sat in stunned awe of the question that was thrown to me via a Facebook message. It did not come after my posts of equality and other issues. It came after one post of the impeachment of Trump. I made no statements or stances, just reposted history. The comments came, then that message after much private debate. My faith was called into question. I was told that I was leading the youth of America in a dangerous direction and this person was glad I was not teaching in their area of North Carolina.
All of it hurt. A lot. I spent the next day wondering where it had all gone wrong in 2019. However, after that day, I reflected. I reflected on all of 2019, what had happened, where I was headed, and especially how God was still involved. That last step of reflection was the hardest because I had plenty of reason to deny Christ as some believed I had. However,
God has this way of taking our story, intertwining the cause of the Divine, and creating something good and holy out of the chaos of 2019.
I have known about this song for a long time now, but it hit me harder this year with some of the triumphs and struggles of 2019. The band Rend Collective just has great music overall. Their song “For All That You Have Done” is a hymn of the Divine being present in all things no matter the situation.
I will close out the post with some of their words as a prayer for you to let go of whatever it is you need to leave behind in 2019 and an acknowledgment that the Divine is already walking beside us and ahead of us into 2020:
From mountain top to valley low Through laughter and through tears Surely the goodness of my God Will follow all the years
You know our failures and regrets You always led us home Redemption's arm has raised us up Our triumph in the storm
For all that You have done for us For every battle won We'll raise a song to bless Your heart For all that You have done
May your 2020 be full of all the things: laughter, tears, mountains, valleys, triumph, redemption, and Divine presence. And may you find a community to share that with, maybe even ours at Storied Church.