The Year 2016
(Photo Credit: Vanessa Boy Photography www.vanessaboy.com)
Where has time gone? I felt like yesterday that I celebrated with my family the start of 2016! And in a blink of an eye here we are ready to finish the 2016 year and kick off the start of 2017. Time truly has gone by fast. I am not sure if getting older has anything to do with this, but for the last several years around this time I have reflected back on my year and have cast vision onto the upcoming year.
I remember at the end of 2015, I began writing down a list of goals for different areas in my life. I can't recall all of them, but I do remember fulfilling a good portion of those goals and as I reflect back on them now, it sure has felt good to fulfill them.
This article all began with one simple question that I asked myself a couple of weeks ago, how was my year? Simple but powerful, this question really made me reflect back on my year and brought me back to some great moments, but also brought me back to some rough ones throughout this year. I'll go into detail on some of those great and rough moments later.
So I ask you the same question, how was your 2016 year? How did you spend the past 365 days? Let me go further, if you had to sum up this year in one word, what would it be? Would it be disappointing, or difficult, or fun, or memorable, or fulfilling or maybe it was the same ol', same ol'. I did not write this article with the intention of making anyone feel bad or wrong for either not having a good year or having a good year, I simply wrote this so that everyone could put the puzzle pieces of 2016 together and see how God is at work, whether we see it or not.
Sadly, most people would agree in some sort of way that this year was not quite what they expected or planned out to be. Why is that? Does God sit on his throne in heaven bored out of his mind, picking on us with the intention of making our lives hard and complicated? Does God find pleasure in taking us through the rough roads in our lives? Does God laugh when he sees us running around in circles like a chicken with it's heads cut off questioning and confused? Or do you think God allows things to happen because he does not care? NO, NO, NO, and NO.
I can agree with the majority that my 2016 year did not quite come out as planned, but I can admit that looking from the rearview mirror and putting the puzzle pieces together, I was able to see how these unexpected twists and turns have made me better overall. If I had to sum up my 2016 in one word, it would probably be, molded. 2016 was a year where I was truly being molded. A year where God, the Potter, shaped me, the clay.
I won't go into every detail in my life in 2016, but I wanted to list a few moments in my life and what those events brought out of me.
2016 brought moments of difficulty with the passing of my aunt, Minerva Rivera. It was so unexpected, but at the same time gave our family enough time to cope and unite in our love.
2016 brought times of fighting with the news of my mother-in-law's stage 3 Cancer.
2016 brought confusing moments in the surprising news of my wife's 2nd pregnancy. Finding out this news left my wife and I with lots of questions and a bit of fear.
2016 brought happy moments when I was able to go back to my hometown of Milwaukee, WI and visit my father not once, but twice.
2016 brought moments of achievement and fulfillment, when I was able to launch my website and got back to writing! This step also opened up a door for me to be a contributing writer for the worshipexposed.com team!
2016 brought moments of growth in my career and ministry. In regards to my career, I was able to expand my workload, and begin to take on more responsibility. I was awarded the "Inside Salesman of the Year" at our annual company Christmas party, that really solidified me and allowed for me to earn the trust and respect of my colleagues throughout the company.
In regards to ministry, 2016 brought me many opportunities. In August through our 21 days of prayer, I was given the opportunity to preach the Word of God for the first time in many, many years. In the same month I was also able complete a 21 day fast which was something I thought I would never do again. I was given the opportunity to travel to the Church of the Highlands' annual Grow 2016 conference with my Pastors, where God continued to stretch me and do a great work in my heart. I was also given the countless opportunities throughout this year to minister to hundreds of people in my calling and passion in music and worship through the Rethink Life Church.
2016 brought great experiences with my children. I experienced many firsts, but experiencing the holiday season with them this year was a treat and something that I am looking forward to for many years to come.
As you can see, 2016 was a mix of many different moments. From great ones to happy ones, to confusing ones, to disappointing ones and difficult ones, life has thrown it all, but through these moments I have understood that this is what life is made of. God is in the business of shaping us and molding our lives to His image and plan. Sometimes we will understand why and many times we won't, but our lives should not be dictated by what has or has not happened. Our lives should not be determined by our successes or failures. To base our lives on these things is to build our house (lives) on soft ground. Jesus goes further in explaining this in Matthew 7:24-27. I am not saying that we should run away from success or even failure, we actually need both in our lives, but our lives should be determined and grounded by our faith in God through Jesus Christ.
So whatever 2016 has brought onto you remember that tomorrow is a new day and a new year. Like Eleanor Roosevelt said, "With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts." Let's remember and learn everything that 2016 has brought us and go into 2017 stronger, enthusiastic and faith filled that it will be the best year yet!
Happy New Year!
CHALLENGE: Recap the full 2016 year, what did you learn? What did you achieve? What was struggling? What was great? After you list all these things down, start writing down your goals for 2017. Don't be afraid to go in detail. Once you complete this, present it to God in prayer and fully believe and commit to it. If you want to go a little further, try to find one thing that you want to define your year by. For me it is consistency. What is yours?