If you’re anything like me — and in this case, I hope you’re not — you might look back at the year that has passed with a sort of “harumph” in your heart. A lot of good things happened, {for us, some great things — we have a new daughter!} but there are some things that you wish were different. There were some things you were hoping to accomplish, perhaps habits you were hoping to make or break, things you were hoping you could change and you might be looking back and feeling a little like you fell short.

After considering the previous year, the first word that came to mind for me to think on and aspire toward in the New Year was ‘discipline.’ This probably gives you an idea of the conclusions of my self-assessment for 2012. Maybe it’s a pattern — at this time of year, while everyone is resolution-ing and celebrating, I often find myself looking at the door that has closed and I struggle not to mourn the opportunities I feel like I missed. The could’ves and should’ves come to town, just for the party in my head.

Or maybe I’m just sad because I like Christmastime so much and now it’s far away again.

But a great reminder refreshed my soul again this morning. I’m still trying to let it settle in — still hoping my heart will absorb the hope of grace. This is the whisper of it, from a New Year’s three years and 8,000 miles ago. I thought I’d share it again today, so that it might encourage you again, or for the first time.

From the Archives:

I was thinking of sharing an encouragement with you about the New Year, and perhaps challenging you to consider really really diving into God’s Word in a new way. Spending time in it every day, and allowing it to transform your life. But then for a couple of days I was struggling, not really able to put my finger on the source of it, but just ill-at-ease about life in general, and fearful awake and asleep. It took me a while to figure out what was really going on in my heart. I could see places where I was afraid when I didn’t need to be. I could see fear instead of faith leading my course of action. And I could see that I was ultimately struggling to trust God, and therefore trying to figure out how to move forward in my own strength.

But finally, this morning as I was reading, the true issue, the root, and the heart of the matter came to the surface. I was struggling to believe that God really loves me. Yes, we all know the words to “Jesus Loves Me” and we all remember that the Bible tells us so. But sometimes, when things are tough, when life gives you lemons, when things aren’t going your way, when your bank account isn’t pretty, there’s a snake in the grass ready to whisper in your ear…Does God really love you? And if you are caught unaware, little seeds of doubt can begin to produce big fruit — fear, mistrust, an unsettled mind, perhaps even a desire to throw out the baby and the bathwater.

But what good and glorious news I have to share with you this morning! What good and glorious news brought me to my knees, weeping in the shower? God loves me. That’s it, and that’s the truth. He really loves me. He really cares about what happens in my life. He really wants a relationship with me and He really wants what’s best for me.

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{He loves us more than we love these three! Amazing Love!}

Do you have kids? I hope someday you do. Every day I have with the Bear inspires poetry in my heart — songs and music of thankfulness. I really, really love him. I really care about what happens in his life. And I really want to lead him and help him to learn how to live a life that will please God — where I know he’ll experience something greater than any other way of life available. But the point I’m trying to make is, I really, really love him. And the way I love that little boy, if you could put it on a calculator and add it up to some numerical value, absolutely cannot compare with the love the Lord has for me, with a thousand calculators. Just me. Little Caroline Collie from Washington, North Carolina — who has this many hairs on her head and has had this many dreams about chocolate on Tuesdays and has seen this many sunsets.

He knows everything about me. And He still loves me. And I am so glad to hold that truth in my heart in a fresh way today. It is absolutely glorious.

So if I could still issue a New Year’s challenge to you, I might encourage you to get into the Bible like never before. To spend time with your Creator and seek His face. But perhaps today, more than any of that, I just want you to know how much He loves you. No matter what you do. It’s unconditional love. He doesn’t need you. But He really, really wants you. You bring Him joy just being who He created you to be. You bring Him joy just being. His desire is for you. And He’s been chasing after you.

In the year ahead, I hope you let Him catch you. Let Him choose you. And let Him shower you with His amazing love. If you do, you’ll want to dive into His Word to know Him better and let Him change you. You’ll want to get up early and get away to be with Him. You will become a part of the greatest love story in history — the story of a loving God, and the generations and generations of people He has demonstrated His love to. In the midst of the billions, the God of the universe wants to know you. Happy New Year.


May your year be filled with the knowledge that He loves you. Because that will change everything.