It’s around this time of year that the best of lists start to emerge. Lists like the best songs, books, movies and podcasts of 2017 are going to be listed in magazines, newspapers and websites over the next few weeks.
If you have read one of these lists, you are likely to find something that you may well include in your list, but many, many other items which you have not heard of or which did not resonate with you in the way it did to the compiler of the list. This is the nature of lists. They reflect that which touched, inspired, challenged or changed us.
So, what has been the best of your year?
As I began my reflections, it occurred to me that in many ways this has been a really difficult year personally. There have been challenges and attacks, some of which were expected and many which were not. There have certainly been highlights on a personal level, such as travelling to Thailand with Liam on a mission trip, family holidays, watching my children begin to lead us in worship at the night service. There has been a chance to dust off my golf clubs and have the occasional round with others from Mosaic. Yet, the challenges have produced some of the best moments of the year as well.
In the challenges I have found myself in prayer and in the Scriptures more and more this year. I have experienced deepening friendships with those who have stepped toward me in the midst of adversity. I have seen God fight battles which I had no control over and bring blessings to Mosaic which give us a great platform for increased health and growth in the years to come. Without the challenges I would not have experienced the best.
I have also been reminded that the best is often experienced in the context of community and with a group of people who care for one another and are seeking to join God in His activity in this world. One of the challenges this year has been around maintaining children and youth without a pastoral team member in this area. I have watched people step up and lead, often feeling a little out of their depth. I have seen people step up and run some huge events like our Monster Garage Sale, High Tea, and Community Carols which have allowed us to connect with and bless our community at large, and alert them to the God who loves them. There are many heroes who have served and lead ministry areas again this year, as they have year after year. There are people who come together to faithfully pray, and many others who allow us the privilege of praying for them. There are those who are quick to point out what God is doing here and silence the negative voices which want to tear down. These are some of the best of Mosaic this year.
There is perhaps a pull to want to point out the worst of 2017 also in all of us, or to be cynical about “the best of” list. Can I encourage you to resist this temptation? Celebrate what God has been teaching you. Recognise the ways in which He has blessed you. Appreciate those who have chosen to continue to walk with you and us, and those who feed into your life. I suspect when we choose to look for the best of, you’ll be delighted, and perhaps a little surprised to see just how much God has done in you and for you over the last year.