Every New Year’s Eve, I ask God to give me one specific thing to focus on for the year. Sometimes He gives me a verse, a word, or a phrase. That way, no matter what the year has in store or how messy life seems to get, I can always go back and remind myself of that one simple truth. Last year was a tough year, so tough in fact that God had to prepare me ahead of time with two of the hardest words in the dictionary – persevere and trust. (I was hoping He’d give me the words smile and doughnuts, but yeah, that didn’t happen.)
This year, God gave me the word faithful.
I’m not entirely sure if I like this word. Faithfulness and faith require trust, and trust requires dependence, and dependence requires humility, and humility is not something that I’m very good at. Yet. So if God wants to teach me about His character and nature using the word faithful, then I will definitely have to stretch and strengthen my very own faith muscles in the process. And that’s hard.
On my way to South Africa, my flight from London was delayed an hour and twenty minutes because a sick passenger had to get off the plane. Due to the delay, I had to sprint “Usain Bolt” style through the Johannesburg airport because I was three minutes from missing my flight to Cape Town. Then, I arrived at the baggage reclaim area only to learn that my checked-in luggage wasn’t in Cape Town. It was left behind in Joburg. Once I got to my flat, I discovered there was no electricity or hot water because of a power outage across parts of the city. Finally, to make matters even worse for a highly emotional human being like myself, all of this happened during shark week. (Men, that’s code, if you’re confused just ask a lady friend.)
Do you want to hear what the worst part of the story is? I hardcore panicked.
I had friends praying for me, flight attendants helping me, and members of my family trying to make a plan from 7,000 miles away. None of that calmed me down. It’s so easy for me to have faith when everything is going smoothly, but once my life takes a little detour – my faith has a tendency to flip out. This time, it took me less than a day to squish God into a tiny box with the label “You Can’t Fix This” written on the front. I underestimated Him big time.
Don’t worry, I saved the good news for last.
Do you want to hear what the best part of the story is? It all worked out.
Every tiny detail was sorted out within 24 hours. I didn’t miss my flight (and managed to squeeze in a sweet cardiovascular workout in the process), my suitcase was delivered to my friend’s house in Stellenbosch the evening of my arrival, and I had electricity in my flat the following afternoon. My panicking got me absolutely nowhere, my stress didn’t solve any of my problems, and God was 100% faithful to provide for me every single step of the way – through friends, family, strangers, and a small cup of really delicious hazelnut coffee. Things may not have worked out the way I thought they would’ve, but they did work out completely.
The Lord reminded me (again) that even in the changing seasons, the delayed flights, the canceled plans, the missing suitcases, and the unpredictable predicaments – He is always faithful (and He is always with me). God’s character does not change, and He never breaks a promise. He is Sovereign over my obstacles, my detours, and my mishaps. He is greater than my greatest mistakes, my emotional breakdowns, and my irrational fears. Whether I’m worshiping in a church on a Sunday morning, running to catch a plane on the tarmac of a busy airport, or rescuing a human trafficking victim on the streets of Africa – I can put my trust in Him because He is worthy of my trust. I googled the word faithful and some of the definitions that came up are loyal, reliable, constant, and steadfast. How perfect is that? In this crazy world where nothing seems to be certain, God is.
I find it a good practice to try and search for the “silver lining” amidst the messes of this life because let’s be honest, life is a mess. But if I think back to my childhood (or to yesterday because who am I kidding), some of my fondest memories and greatest adventures happened when I was knee deep in some sort of a mess. Usually, that mess involved mud, paint, bubbles, or bloody grass-stained body parts – but it always involved fun. Well, almost always.
So instead of trying to live an unrealistic and uninterrupted “mess free” life, I’m going to try my best to make the most out of my mess by inviting Jesus right into it – mud, bubbles, emotional breakdowns, and all.
Because He is faithful.