2015 was, in my opinion, the worst year for America and the world in the 21st century. Massive outbreaks of violence at home and abroad flooded the news the entire year, racial tensions are the highest they’ve been since the early ’90s, freedom of expression is become more and more policed, and from the looks of the current political polls, the country’s not going to get better anytime soon, no matter who we elect.
But this isn’t about all that. This is about me and my year.
2015 was game changer for me. In the physical realm, lots of things happened. Close friends came and went (twice), I got the opportunity to produce a TV show for the majority of the year, and I took a trip to California for the first time in my life. Spiritually, though, this year was something special, something I didn’t expect. I’ve never grown as much as I have in this calendar year, and I have a spiritual attack to thank for that.
Let me explain. Until the early summer, my relationship with God was stagnant. For years, I was perfectly content to just coast along. I went to church and listened to worship music on a regular basis, but I wasn’t engaging with God or getting into the Word. I always figured that I had heard enough of the Word at church and knew the right things to say that when a spiritual attack happened, I would be ok. It took all of 1 day for that mindset to die.
Without going into too much detail because it’s still a private matter, one of my friends had a pretty severe spiritual attack back in June. I freaked. I didn’t know what to do. One of my friends did know what to do, thank God. He grabbed his Bible and began quoting Scripture and taking authority over the situation in the name of Jesus. All I could manage to do was pace around nervously, praying under my breath. I can safely say that it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I felt like a terrible Christian because I didn’t know what to do. That day was a wakeup call. I knew I needed to grow, but didn’t know how or what that looked like.
Throughout the year, I had been going to a Bible study run by some of my co-workers. I really liked it because it was really chill. There was enough structure in it to know when things were going a little too long, but that was about it. It really left a lot of room for the Holy Spirit to move and take control of the structure. After the events I just described occurred, I made sure I was at that Bible study every single time. It was there that I took note of 3 specific people, and if they’re reading this, they know who they are. These 3 people are incredibly in tune with the Holy Spirit, and you could tell in their demeanors. These 3 were the first Barnabas friendships I ever had in my life. I gravitated toward them in different ways, and they all spoke into my life in different, but meaningful ways. Luckily, I lived with one of them, so I was able to pick his brain on a daily basis. He encouraged me to set an alarm on my phone everyday to remind myself to read the Word. This changed my life.
The beautiful thing about God is that He isn’t a cute girl in a chick-flick. You don’t have to make some elaborate gesture to get His attention or His affection. All you need to do is take 1 baby step toward Him and He comes running to embrace you. That’s what happened to me. All I had to do was set an alarm on my phone, signifying that I was taking a step toward drawing closer to Him, and He poured out blessing on me. The next day when I had my first devotion (or quiet time, as you may call them) in months, I was astounded. I felt like I was supposed to start in Hebrews, which I had never read all the way through. I noticed as I was reading Hebrews 1 that I was picking up on things that I normally wouldn’t. It was then I realized that God had given me a heightened sense of discernment. I had done nothing to deserve it. All I did was take a step toward God and He did the rest. I began growing more than I ever had just by reading the Word more, but it didn’t stop there.
A couple months later, another one of my Barnabas friends texted me. He had gone out into the woods to pray and he texted me out of the blue asking if there was anything I needed prayer for. At that point, I was extremely unhappy with where I was working, for a number of reasons. I had been praying for weeks asking God if I was supposed to stay or move back home and try to find a job there. Nothing. Silence. So, I told my friend that some added clarity would be nice. About an hour later (if that), he texted me back saying that God didn’t want to give me clarity, but perspective.
After that, everything changed.
I didn’t have to pursue perspective, God gave it to me. I can’t explain how it happened, but ever since that text, as I have drawn closer to God, He’s given me new perspective in countless situations. I’ve been able to to see a situation on the surface and look for a different, deeper perspective. In fact, most times I don’t even look for the perspective, God just gives me a new mindset. Since He’s given me a new mindset, I’ve grown in contentment, particularly in regards to my work situation.
I’m not saying that I’m where I want or even need to be spiritually, but this is the first New Year’s Eve I can look back on the year and be happy with where I am spiritually. I can for once say that I grew more than I receded. The hard part in 2016 will be growing more without receding. But I can say, for once, that I’m up for the challenge.
So as I raise my proverbial glass to 2016, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the 3 Barnabases in my life. Though y’all have moved on to bigger and better things, I thank you for all that y’all have done for me spiritually and I look forward to our continued communication from afar. And, of course, I would like to say thank You, Jesus, for revealing Yourself to me in new ways this year. It was truly the greatest year of my life. Here’s to many more like it. Happy New Year, everyone!