2017 has been the best year of my life. I know, I know, I say that at the end of every year, but it is not because I merely feel like it, but because it is true.
Before 2017, 2016 was the best year of my life. This year was better than 2016, as was 2016 better than 2015, and so on. And guess what, 2018 is going to be an even better year for me. And for you, if you would believe.
Over the past few weeks, Psalm 65 has appeared and reappeared in my personal bible studied (which I’ve been very bad at.)
First, I was praying to God to hit my targets at work, and I was praying Psalm 65:2, which says “O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.”
And as I prayed for the Lord who answers prayer to help me in my targets at work, Psalm 65:11 came to my mind. It says “You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance.”
I went back and read the entire Psalm 65, and it is one beautiful psalm.
In all, there are a few things I’ve learned from God this year.
1. Still Standing– I’ve been through things this year, and let me be very honest and transparent (as I like to be haha). Prayer works, and prayer is the most powerful force on earth.
I started this year with a bad dream.
In the dream (which later inspired one of the short stories in my thesis collection,) I was asked to pray in the church of my favorite preacher in the whole wide world. But I was too shy to proclaim Jesus in front of the crowd. I told them that I was writing my prayer points down, and waiting for people outside to come inside. We still have time, I joked, let’s wait for latecomers to settle down before we start praying. But just before I was finally going to pray, the lead pastor of that church came in and I scurried to my seat. He said a few things, and mentioned that the youth in the church were going to be singing “Glorious Deliverer” for our next ministration.
And so, the pastor of the church asked someone to start singing, so we could begin the rehearsals. The man was struggling with the lyrics, the melody, and everything about the song. I was frustrated, because anyone who knows me knows that I love that song, I can sing it even in my sleep. So the youth pastor mentioned to the head pastor, “Oh, Alheri is here, and she knows the song.” The head pastor said something that broke my heart. He said “Which Alheri? The Alheri who can’t even pray in front of the church?” And so I was bypassed from leading my favorite song in front of the church. Mortified, I watched the head pastor walk to his car, much too shaken to approach him and appeal.
I woke up from that dream determined that I was never going to let go of the gift that God has given to me. It will never be said that I was unable to open my mouth and pray in front of a crowd. And so, I began to fast. I prayed and fasted from January to March. I was addicted to prayer and fasting. I would walk around my college campus at midnight, praying and making declarations over the campus, praying into my future, into my thesis, into my job. Into my life.
Needless to say, the rest of the year was a testimony. I graduated with High Honors, got a job two days after my graduation, moved to Ireland, got an apartment, and finally found a church. All of those things are testimonies of their own, and for space and time, I can’t go into more detail.
Here’s what I can say- God has been faithful.
2. Standing Still– Since I moved to Dublin (more like since summer,) I’ve been struggling in my faith. It’s funny isn’t it? After fasting for three months, and walking around at midnight like a maniac praying and declaring, I was unable to consistently manage quiet time. I was ashamed of myself. Me? Who was once obsessed with prayer and fasting? And I didn’t even have the patience to pray for a few minutes per day.
The biggest struggle in this season has been consistency. Here’s what has happened- I have a pinch from God, I pray and fast for a few days, get hot, and then, as though doused by cold water, I find no vim to pray. No motivation, no desire.
Coming to Dublin made it even worse, mostly because I don’t really do well with change in environment and routine. In school, I was able to manage my energy and my time while I fasted. But while at home in New York, I fell out, and worse, when I came to Dublin and started on a new job, I felt suppressed. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I felt like there was a blanket over my atmosphere that was preventing me from praying.
Now, for someone with the understanding the Lord has given to me, you would expect that I would at least take the time to pray through the dip, That I would pray through until I eventually was able to pray as much as I was able to while in college. But alas.
There was one time a few weeks ago, when I was deep in my struggle. And I simply said to God– no matter what I do, or what happens to me, I will show up before you. I will show up, I will show up, I will show up.
However, today, the testimony I have is that I’m standing still. I’m still standing and I’m standing still. No matter what has happened, I have come boldly before the throne of Grace, inspired and encouraged by my best friend, and helped greatly by the Holy Spirit.
I know it’s Christmas Day, Merry Christmas.
But for me, it’s the final 7 days of this year, I’m taking inventory of 2017, and settling 2018 in the spiritual realm. The bible says that the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him. I need to know the secrets of my life for 2018. I need to pray through this rubbish cloud that has challenged my prayer life in 2017.
By this time next year, my testimony will be different. I will not only be standing still, or still standing. I will be soaring. Will you join me?
Merry Christmas once again! May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you and your family!
Featured image from here.