I did it.
No one has probably ever done it before so it’s quite an accomplishment. I mean, it took a while–longer than it was supposed to–but I did it. THAT’S THE IMPORTANT THING. I powered through when no one else would. I kept my eyes on the prize when it felt so long. I finished the race strong.
Guys, I finished a devotional book all the way through. FROM BEGINNING TO END.
*insert awe and loud applause here*
Oh, other people have done this before, you say?
Shut your mouth.
You’re just jealous and stealing my thunder. It should totally be a big deal that I’m 34 years old and just now finishing a Bible study from start to finish. Because I’ve never done that before. I mean, I’m really good at starting them. I’m a professional at starting them, actually. But finishing them to completion?
I didn’t even know people did that.
I was insanely proud of myself as I sat down to do the last day of my The Message Remix: Solo Devotional last month. So proud I was waiting to be struck dead by lightening because pride comes before a fall, ya’ll. (I don’t actually say ya’ll in real life #northerner, but I felt it went well there. You’re welcome.)
The last day of my study was about reflecting on my year-ish long journey and what God had done with me through it. As I sat thinking about where I was when I started the devotional and all the things God did while I worked my way through it, I went from proud to humble very, very quickly.
The great thing about journaling and writing out your prayers is you can easily look back. So often it seems the things I’m wrapped up in aren’t important the next week or month or year. And that makes me forget how well God has taken care of me. I cry out to him and he answers, I say thanks, and then we move on. It happens all the time, unfortunately.
But ending my study meant taking some time to revisit my hopes, lessons, fears, worries, praises, and all the seasons I went through as I read my Bible and devotional for almost a year and a half.
What became most apparent is God is in every nook and cranny of my life. He is in my dreams for the future and in my right-now-I-can’t-breath worries. He listened when I told him my fears and, whether I realized it in that moment or not, he was working on them. I learned his time and my time are not the same thing. I learned his plans for good and my plans for good are not the same thing. And while I “knew” that before–now I know it in my bones. My head always understood it, but now my heart gets it too; knowing brings peace when nothing else makes sense.
That’s what God brought through this study.
He did not bring financial blessings. He did not bring easy days. He did not bring a perfect marriage. He did not bring stress-free relationships. He did not bring rainbows and unicorns and fluffy white clouds. He did not bring early retirement, lottery winnings, or a new car.
We often confuse fantasy with what God really is. If anything, he brought more struggles but also taught me new, better ways to handle them. He gave me challenges I didn’t want to deal with, but gave me wisdom and discernment to make it through. He gave me peace in the midst of storms and contentment in a world that screams for more.
I didn’t know what I needed or wanted when I started this Bible study. I had started it three (or four…) other times before and it didn’t do much for me; I didn’t even make it past day ten. The only difference this time was I told God I’d stick with it and expect him to show up.
I’m sure he likes it when I’m sassy and kinda rude, right? RIGHT.
Yesterday my friend Nicole asked if I’d read any good devotionals recently. I couldn’t reply fast enough that I had one I thought she would like. But the thing is, it’s not this specific devotional that was magical or especially great. It’s that I engaged with God in quiet time, submitted my schedule and will to him, and the Holy Spirit did some big work. It’s not so much the study you use, it’s the God you invite in. It’s about being consistent and open and quiet. It’s about a God who loves us and is just waiting for us to say “let’s do this, God; do a good work in me for your glory.”
And he did, he absolutely did.