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Beginnings, Endings, and Beginnings

I don’t think I’m alone in being grateful that 2015 is over. In fact, from what I’ve seen on my Facebook newsfeed, I’m certain that there are a lot of you glad to be in 2016.

For us, 2015 was a rough year. It started very badly. At the first, my lovely bride suffered a stroke in her right eye. That caused a lot of turmoil for a few months starting the year along with a harder hit financially than we anticipated when we shifted gears. It was a horrible beginning to the year yet we were still optimistic about the future.

We put all of our energy into starting Freedom Church. We spent a lot of time and money doing what we thought the Lord had called us to do but to no avail. We looked at all sorts of reasons that we weren’t making progress except the one that was really the case, that the Lord wasn’t in that effort. The areas of Kingdom building He was in were allowed to slide in favor of the church. Finally, God got through to us and we pushed the pause button on the church in early December.

During the entire course of the year, we faced a number of setbacks, especially financial ones. At the beginning of the year, we planned out the year based upon the information we had at the time and set our need on a conservative estimate and some trends continuing into the new year. We were off and had some serious and unplanned expenses that really hurt us.

We did find some light in the darkness that was last year. When we finally surrendered out plans fully to the Lord, doors started opening and we saw a much greater response to our efforts in just making the adjustments than we ever did in the church. Focusing on the ministry the Lord had already given to us, one that we had neglected badly during the year, has given us a new sense of peace and renewed vigor. Our vision is clearer than ever and we see more of who we really are in Christ and His kingdom in the light of these changes. It was ultimately a good ending to what was causing so much stress in its failure.

Just as the breakthroughs were starting, the storm that was 2015 threw one last major assault on us. In one week, our studio computer died, a massive storm knocked out power at one of my jobs meaning I lost a lot of money that week, and we got hit with more unplanned expenses. Really, all this hit on the same day. It was very disheartening. In the end, 2015 was my Kahn. Just as it was beaten and failing, it quoted “Moby Dick” and activated the Genesis device to destroy our Enterprise. (Watch “Wrath of Kahn” if you don’t get that one. You won’t regret it.) It really made for a bad week. It put a hold on all of our work and put a ding on our income.

I admit, I got really down and angry. Just as things were starting to go forward, we got hit hard enough to slow down or even stop all of our work. It’s really an effort to see past the current situation and stretch out in faith and see what the Lord is going to do. I’m working hard to come to that place of peace trusting in the Lord to come through for us. To tell the truth, I came close to giving up but ultimately refused to surrender to despair. The soldier in me, the one that will not give up as long as the mission is yet to be completed, won the battle.

Even though a change in the date really doesn’t change the circumstances we’re in, there is something about the fresh start represented by the changing year that offers some hope. It’s still a beginning. Even though I am greatly limited by the loss of the computer, I can still do about 10% of the work without it. I can still write content, contact people, and do research so that when we are restored, I am ready. It’s a step of faith on my part to do what I can while I wait for the Lord to provide the rest.

As I said, I’m not unique this year. I’m not posting this so you’ll feel sorry for me. In fact, I’m posting this to speak to everyone else in the middle of a serious storm of their own. I didn’t post all the waves that crashed upon the shores of our house this year, especially the last month, but enough to show that with the Lord, you can survive everything the world has to throw at you. There’s an old truth that I’m sure most of you have heard before, “You’re either headed into a testimony, you’re in a testimony, or you have a testimony.” It sounds a little redundant but it’s true. Like us, many of you are in your testimony and, just like us, you’re waiting to see how the Lord is going to take you through to the other side.

Bad things happen and they don’t necessarily happen for a reason. Sometimes you’re guilty and sometimes you’re not. In other words, sometimes when you’re in a storm, it’s the consequences of your actions or sin but not as often as you think. Trials happen even when you haven’t done anything to cause them. Regardless of the cause, the Lord will carry you through them and turn your pain into a badge of honor in the Kingdom.

Whatever the world and the enemy throw at you, don’t give up. The Lord is for you.

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