2009 was a year of significant ups and downs for our family.
b made the dean's list, had the time of her life during her first year at columbia, and got a great start on her sophomore year. n got a 5 (the highest score possible) on her ap psychology exam and successfully transitioned to bellevue college for her senior year of high school. our fledgling church had a fabulous time away at our retreat, complete with heartfelt worship, outstanding bible teaching, and what seemed like some real gelling as a fellowship. m made a successful start on her seminary career, and later in the year, m and i celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary -- every year a gift of pure grace.
but smack in the middle of everything was the precipitous dissolution of the bridge. we went from the 'high' of the all-church retreat in april to the resignation of all three elders in may to our final closure in june. under the best of circumstances, that probably wouldn't have been fun, but this was uglier than i ever would have imagined. i don't think it's a stretch to say that it was not our finest hour as a church. i was discouraged and off-balance for months afterward.
perhaps not surprisingly, i'm not sorry that 2009 is in the rear view mirror. there is a part of me that would rather forget the whole thing and just move on, but i know that is a fleshly impulse. in the economy of God, nothing is wasted. he does not erase our sufferings or our failings; he redeems them. the oft-repeated promise that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him, to those who are called according to his purpose" (romans 8:28) assures us that God's intention is to take even those things we are most tempted to bury and transform them into public declarations of his goodness and faithfulness.
we know this is true, not only because of the promise, but because of the cross of Jesus. that God came to live among his people and was rejected, falsely accused, humiliated, tortured, then murdered by those he came to save is about as bad a result as one could imagine. ignominious. disgraceful. inglorious. it's exactly the kind of thing that (in my flesh) i would want God to wipe from history; at least in eternity, one might wish that we could just forget the whole sordid affair. but God does not discard the cross in the dustbin of history. in fact, he sets it at the center of his program for redeeming humanity and all creation, never to be forgotten for all eternity. instead of being the reminder of all the worst parts of our humanity, it becomes the supreme example of God's love, faithfulness, and transforming power.
how God will transform the more wretched events of 2009, i do not know. but i am confident that this is his intention, and as i contemplate the new year, i find my anticipation growing. may we -- and you! -- face the challenges of this new year with faith and courage, the needs of the world with love and generosity, and hurts of the past with mercy and forgiveness.