Hopeful: 2012

Happy New Year!

Currently in Andhra Pradesh, India, it is 12:50 am on January 1, 2012. God is so faithful.

This New Years' Eve, I feel hopeful.

I'm grateful for all that 2011 brought - building my marriage, working for (the amazing) Living Water, leaving in September for the World Race - a year filled with challenges and joys. I can honestly say I did a lot of living in 2011; not just existing, but being fully alive. For this, I am grateful. For the Jesus who gives life, and gives it abundantly.

Our New Year rang in a unique way. Both Jack and I have some kind of flu thing, so we had a quiet night in. At midnight, I kissed my sweetheart - and took a moment to thank God for all that he is.

Then I stepped onto our 5th-story balcony and looked out over Ongole. Steady rain covered everything in a sheet, but that did not slow down revelers across the city.

Downstairs, I heard the church carrying on their passionate worship service - they repeated "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" over and over as midnight neared.

Across the street, I watched a group of sopping wet, euphoric teenagers whoop and push each other around jovially as they counted down, exploding into hugs and yells as my watch beeped the hour.

Fireworks burst across the sky, booming and filling the grey-maroon sky with vivid color.

The sound of a high-pitched Hindi song filled the air.

I closed my eyes and felt the cleansing rain ... dripping on my head, my nose, my chin, my wrists. Warm and soothing.

I felt my heart float up in a silent worship song to God.

I did not need champagne or yells or a countdown to ring in the New Year - I just needed worship. A reminder of God's love. And I found it, as my heart swelled with hope.

Because there is more for this city. Greater things are yet to come ...

Because this day, this year, we are one day and one year closer to the return of Jesus - our beloved King who will make all things right.

And until then, I get to use this body and this breath to tell people of my coming King. So they too will know this hope that fills my heart.

In 2012, I have no goal but to enjoy God more - because oh, he is so worthy of my affections.

Dear reader, I am thinking of you. Wherever you find yourself on the Eve of this New Year, know that you are so intensely loved by the God of this universe. No amount of striving is necessary to win his favor - you are already his favorite.

So seize this life he offers you, this abundant and overflowing and hopeful life ... because you only get one chance to live. And you're not really living until you feel the constant, steady rain of his love falling down on your head, your heart ... cleansing, soothing, healing.

This love is there for you ... you just have to step out into the rain, close your eyes, and feel it drip down.