A Look Back

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” - Isaiah 43:19

Have you ever thought about what you’d say to a younger you? Every year on my birthday I stop to reflect on the last year of life. This year, however, I went way back - 10 years back. I’ve recently been thinking what I’d say to my 19 year old self if i had the chance. What would I tell her that might possibly make her life any easier?

In all honesty, I don’t think I’d say anything. Sure, I could tell her to be a little more kind to her parents, to look to Jesus and not to relationships for fulfillment, to focus on the being and not so much the doing, to forgive more and screw up less. I could tell her those things. But would I want to?

The very fact that I went through all the struggle, the joys, the loneliness and depression, the breathtaking adventures and the painful heartache is what drew me further into my Heavenly Father’s arms. It’s what formed (is forming) me into the likeness of Jesus. 

I can remember back to summer of 2007. I was 17, sitting in a banquet hall for my brother’s graduation from twentyfourseven Academy in CO Springs. The lights went off and their “end of the year” video recap started playing on a large screen. The video was good, but the lyrics to the song playing with it caught my attention more…

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next…?

I thought, “…what a weird song.” Then the chorus hit…

I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened before

And like a rush of adrenaline, the blood started pumping faster through my veins. Tears started forming and I didn’t even know why. At that time in my life, I didn’t really know who the Holy Spirit was, but I know now that he was trying to speak to me in this moment. 

As the video progressed, the song unfolded into more depth…

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here***

Every note piercing my heart, every word touching the very core of my soul. Something became clear to me then… this life was so much more than I even understood. And it’s STILL more than I understand now. My younger self couldn’t grasp the meaning of those words, because those words come with life lived. They come as God unfolds the pages of our story. They come with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The darkest nights and brightest days. And I knew in that moment, sitting there as the music faded out, that my life was meant to be fully lived. I knew I didn’t want to waste anymore time. I wanted to start living as if it mattered. As if everything in this life was for a purpose. Even the hard things. And even though I had no idea what “hard” was at that age, the Lord marked that moment for me. 

Two years later, at the age of 19, I fully surrendered my life to Jesus. Growing up in a christian family, going to church my whole life and even saying the sinner’s prayer didn’t make me a christian. But the day I finally decided to follow Jesus and give everything to him was also the day my life became difficult. The lyrics to the song started to become real.. Welcome to the resistance, the tension is here between who you are and who you could be, how it is and how it should be. And in the last 10 years I’ve seen more than my share of pain, not only in my life but also in the lives of people I love. Death, betrayal, brokenness, abuse, hate, unforgiveness. All things that never make sense and never should have been.

But now, and only by the Lords relentless mercy, can I look back and say that even though bad things happen, my God is still good. He is still in control. and He is making all things new again* - working ALL things together for the good of those who love him.** Maybe redemption has stories to tell, and forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Salvation is here. There is still so much hope and so much beauty to be found in this life with him. I would not trade it for anything. Most definitely not the good and not even the bad. 

I think it’s unreal to say we shouldn’t have regrets. Of course there are things I wish I could take back. But ultimately, God is using even those things to weave a beautiful tapestry of redemption. He is all about redeeming. That is why he came to this earth - to bring us back to him. To restore a broken relationship. One that he didn’t even break, we did. 

But his love for us is SO great - he is compelled by it to make things right again. And again. and again. and again. He never stops redeeming, making beauty from ashes. Whatever the trial, whatever the sin, he’s making a way for his children. A surrendered life is a life he will make beautiful again. He’s constantly making all things new.

Somehow through the mess, the peace i have feels deeper, the joy I have looks brighter, and the love he gives tastes sweeter. I pray that regardless of what season you’re in, it’s one that you’re letting him have control over. Letting him make your life full of purpose, beauty and hope.

So If I were to say anything to 19 year old me, I guess it’d be something like, Embrace the tension and fully live. Life is hard, but with Jesus it’s also beautiful. It’s okay to have regrets. It’s ok to make mistakes. But when you do, don’t hold on to them. Let go and let them be used by God to make the old new and the broken beautiful. He’ll do it regardless, but if you don’t surrender, you’ll miss it all together. And believe me - that is something you don’t want to miss.

* “Behold, I am making all things new … these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

** “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

*** Dare You To Move - Jon Foreman [still one of my favorites]


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