I traditionally write posts in reflection of the previous year. As I’ve been reassessing my blogging lately (seems to happen at the turn of each year), I wonder if personal posts mean anything at all. For family and friends, it’s a glimpse into my perspective on the 365 days that composed this time bracket we will alway refer to as “2018.” For those who don’t know me, why would you care?

2018 was a great year in so many ways, but it ended on a cloud for me – and not the light, airy cloud of a dream fulfilled. It was a dark, thunderstorm cloud that obscures vision. 2018 truly was all over the place.

Let’s sum it all up:

  • Hokie basketball games
  • A surprise 50th birthday party at Northstar’s Reserve
  • Slanket Sermons – when snow prevents our church from meeting, I preach the sermon in a slanket.. in the snow.
  • Redoing our kitchen with butcher block countertops
  • Got featured on “Humans of Blacksburg” because I’m, well, a human that lives in Blacksburg.
  • Sooooo many movies. Between me and Aaron Peck, we may have been the ones who crashed MoviePass. I certainly got my money’s worth out of it. I resorted to Sinemia later in the year after MP stopped working. (Use this link to sign up, and I get points!)
  • We took a trip to Arkansas to hang out on Lake Hamilton with friends from Texas and catch up with other family and friends in Little Rock. I finally got to run on the Big Dam Bridge.
  • We followed that up with a fun weekend in the New River Gorge whitewater rafting. (highly recommend the resort there!)
  • Cornhole.
  • I found myself in Istanbul again, walking streets of the Kadikoy district, befriending new people, looking over the city from a Starbucks balcony and learning about the culture from the Asian side of that megacity.
  • This trip birthed the internationally famous video series Two Guys in Turkey in Twin Beds starring myself and Matt Simpson.
  • Progress, progress, progress toward our church beginning its building campaign. It was a year of movement, just not dirt movement.. yet, but we did celebrate groundbreaking in August!
  • Mourned over a Starbucks closing in downtown Blacksburg. Seriously, how does a Starbucks close??
  • Life accomplishment: I saw the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and got a picture with it in my hot dog shirt.
  • Personal retreats – at Mountain Lake Lodge and Crosspointe’s Center for Spiritual Renewal
  • New cancer battles
  • Reestablishing myself over my lessers as the undisputed Fantasy Football Champion

Reflections

When a year begins in Cassell Coliseum and ends with cancer, it’s definitely all over the place. It’s a lot like life for you too, I know. We never know when we’ll see a game-winning three-point shot or when we experience surgeries and chemotherapy. In between life’s extremes, we experience new faces and places, rainbows and thunderclouds.

I am deeply introspective. I do believe that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Paul said it better than Socrates:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13.5)

I need moments – regular moments – of reflection and self-study. I want to grow, to be more self-aware. There’s a standard by which I compare myself, and it is that of Jesus. One would think that the perpetual falling-short of measuring up to His example would be depressing and self-defeating. It’s anything but that for me. Presenting myself to Him regularly in prayer breeds thanksgiving and humility. The wonderfully comforting thing about falling short in my walk with Jesus is that He loves me. Radically. Purely. Deeply. Always.

Because I feel completely safe before God, I experience profound inner gratitude. I am free to grow. I am not held back by my failure or smallness.

It defies understanding – that a perfect God would love me/us even though He knows our thoughts and sees our sins. And more than knowing and seeing, He sent His Son to take my sin from me so that there would be no barrier between Him and me. All that He asked in return is for me to trust the means by which He offers me to be saved – placing my faith in Jesus and confessing my imperfections, selfishness, failure, and wrongness to Him.

This divine exchange that occurs by simple faith – I receive salvation and righteousness, and God receives my sin… truly boggles my mind. It is the gospel.

It is reflection upon these truths that keep me grounded and centered on bright days and dark days. When I anchor myself on what is true, I can experience a settled, circumstance-resisting peace.

So thanks, 2018. Your 365 days were all over the place. High points. Low points. International travel. White water. Intimacy and distance. Struggle and endurance. In reality, you are not a “you.” 2018.. is a tangible time-marker. I can’t thank YOU. I can only thank Him. Jesus has been constant as I have been all over the place.

On this day...

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Jeff Noble

Jeff is the pastor of Northstar Church in Blacksburg, Virginia. He grew up in Arkansas, loves fantasy football and is an Apple fan boy. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @journeyguy.
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