I turned 26 this week, and the day was great.
As many do when their birthday rolls around, I tend to be reflective. Looking at the past year – how have I grown? what I have learned? what am I thankful for?
Year 25 held much refining and changing from God, much wrestling in my faith, much growing as a communicator, much shaping as a teacher and woman in ministry, much humbling and learning as a graphic designer, and much enjoying as a wife, sister, daughter, and friend.
Amidst highs and lows, one reality stands out like a flashing police car at midnight: if my faith in Jesus, or my love for others, or my diligence with work, or my enjoyment of Scripture, or my joy in life hinged on me, not one would be present with any kind of fervor or endurance.
It’s possible that I could stay connected at work because I like being creative.
It’s possible that I could choose kindness and humility within difficult relationships maybe 50% of the time. Because I was raised to be a peacekeeper.
It’s possible that I could find a little joy in every day, but it would be weak joy, brought on by a new shirt or fun meal. Not durable.
Now, to the one with enough power to prevent you from stumbling into sin and bring you faultless before his glorious presence to stand before him with ecstatic delight, to the only God our Savior, through our Lord Jesus Christ, be endless glory and majesty, great power and authority—from before he created time, now, and throughout all the ages of eternity. Amen! Jude 24-25, The Passion Translation
I start this new year, my 26th year, with a clear understanding that if it was up to me to keep me in the Light, keep me turning from sin, keep me loving others as myself, keep me loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength… I would be flailing.
Why do I say this? Because life is grounded in one major reality: I have been born again, I am a new creation, I am a child of God.
How did this happen? I certainly didn’t do anything to create this new identity for myself in life and gain more in death.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1), but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (v. 5).
May we remember we have limits; God is infinite. We know little; God knows everything. We have weaknesses; God is all-powerful and never tired. We can’t see things coming; God is sovereign, with everything under His rule and authority. We have inescapable boundaries; God is always present in all places. We are flawed, with a bent toward sin; God is unchanging, perfect and whole. We were born and we will die; God is eternal.
In great power and love, He made us alive with Christ even when we were buried in sin, and He promises to sustain us.
- “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-20
- “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.” John 14:16-19
- “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26
- “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:13-14, 16-17
- “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Philippians 4:19-20
“The glory and majesty and power and authority that it takes to keep you and me alive in Christ — to keep us praying and trusting, to keep us in the love of God — was secured for us sinners, when Christ died for us. Therefore the glory and majesty and dominion and authority that keeps us from falling and presents us blameless and joyful to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ — the blood of the covenant. And therefore when we ascribe glory and majesty and dominion and authority to God we do it through Jesus Christ.” John Piper
Without Jesus, my identity would be bound as a timid communicator, approval-seeking pleaser, religious Pharisee, self-absorbed friend, joy-starved human, misguided worshipper, and discontent wife. These days I recognize the miracle: my identity as one flawed, yet entirely kept by the faithfulness of God and beautifully changed by the gospel every day.
I encourage you in this: Jesus is the Yes to all God’s promises. When we become His, His Spirit seals us in. Lean in to the miracle of His joyful faithfulness to you. Explore the wonder of His character and your redemption. Ask for eyes to see how the gospel transforms and grows you. Find joy in your daily need of Him and in His great desire to be your strength.
Let’s keep ourselves as close to Him as we can, and when our keeping abilities are spent, live grounded in the grace that for the glory of His name, He will always hold.