For the last several years I had designated New Years Day as my favorite holiday. I’m not sure whether it was the anticipation of a new beginning, complete with its ironed out re-commitments that excited me or if it was the images of confetti and sequin dresses that swirled in my head. Either way, I always embraced the day with a cheerful expectation of the good to come. However, this year a realization dawned on me. As an avid journalist of my experiences, I was able to look back over my past January’s and February’s and some March’s and found that they, for lack of a more intelligent word…sucked. How did I not realize this pattern before? And why do I still ignorantly race towards Mother New Year with open arms and a big welcoming smile? What a sucker. Interestingly enough, I discovered that there wasn’t really a culprit as to why my new years were this way. There weren’t terrible circumstances to blame other than the lack of sunshine and her sweet Vitamin D. Now, I’m no pessimist. I’m not even a realist. I’m an extreme optimist…even an idealist, but for some reason, it feels like once a year God is like, “ALRIGHT, TIME FOR SOME MAJOR OPEN-HEART SURGERY, JESSICA”— and the time He picks is always somewhere after the confetti poppers and before the resurrection that comes with spring. Perhaps this was His plan all along? Three months of death and burial before a blooming change.

This year has been no different than the others. On the outside, my circumstances are lovely, and even where there are unlovely parts I still can see them as lovely, thanks to that blessed assurance. But on the inside, some major surgery is going on. He’s taking me on a path of wholeheartedness. I know this may sound like a silly example, but I can’t help but think of that ridiculous line in the 1966 movie, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” (Here is the six seconds of it, if you have no idea of what I’m talking about) where the children are all peeking into their Halloween bags to see what goodies they gathered, and Charlie Brown says with great disappointment, “I got a rock.” Throughout the episode, the kids are all excitedly gaining more and more candy while each time Charlie is given a rock. I sort of feel like Charlie; all the people around me are showing off their New Year goodies, sparklers still going, and I’m just over here with a pile of rocks. I shared this with the Lord and He interrupted my stream of thought and He told me that rocks were better than candy. Ummmmm….

He then reminded me of something that happened a couple years ago. Andrew used to go to shows all the time; the loud kind with flashing lights and hyped up beats and electronic sounds that make my heart race, but somehow calm him down. Anyway, being the nice girlfriend I was at the time, I decided to go to one with him. However, once we got there, neither of us really felt like being there, yet we didn’t feel like we were supposed to leave. We were people watching in the back when a young boy caught my eye and I felt the Lord share a vision with me to give to him. So, being reluctant to ever have to talk to a stranger, I told the Lord if it was really Him, that the boy would go sit down. As if the boy himself heard me, he suddenly turned around and made a beeline to a chair behind him. Alright then. Taking a deep breath I went and introduced myself to him. He was artistic. A high schooler. Keeps to himself. I made vague conversation before sharing that I felt like God was talking to me about him. This didn’t seem to faze him either positively or negatively, “Okay,” he says.

I just see that the Lord is saying you are like a geode. That on the outside people (or even how you view yourself) you may just see a rock, but really, once you are broken open, you are filled with color and gems and great worth. That’s what a geode is—it’s..” I started to explain.

“I know what a geode is,” he interrupted.

Thinking I’d offended him, I said nothing.

But he continued with a small smile, “I collect them.”

After praying with him, we left the show. Andrew shared that he was about to go talk to the same young man before I did.

He collects them. How kind of the Lord to bring us to this show just to speak to this young man in a way that was personal to him. Anyway, the Lord was now giving this word back to me. January’s and February’s are like rocks. You ask and hope and believe for all these momentous things in the New Year and He gives them to us immediately, but they don’t look like what we expected. He gives them in the form of unmined invitations. He gives them shrouded in mystery. In the words of an anime cartoon that none of you have ever watched called “Whispers of the Heart,” there’s this line that goes:

“When you become…you are like that rock; you’re in a raw, natural state with hidden gems inside. You have to dig down deep and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning! Once you find the gems you have to cut and polish them! Oh, and here’s the tricky part: look at the crack in the geode. You see that big green crystal there? You could spend years polishing that and it wouldn’t be worth much at all. The smaller crystals are more valuable. And there may be even more deep inside!!”

How true is this to our lives? Our dreams, abstract or tangible, never come in the form of glittering gems. They come like rocks to broken open. Then, the process doesn’t even end there, but then there’s cutting and polishing and refining. The result? The little things, the small surrenders and choices are what mattered most. He gives us our dreams at first unbroken and waits to see who will surrender to the process of being broken open, exposed, raw, surrendered, and brilliant. Who will allow me to chisel away at them? Who will allow me to shape them into the great wonder I designed them to be?

The Father’s story is always a story of creation, but sometimes that creation looks like removing in order to reveal. Even John the Baptist realized this when they asked him who he was and he said, “I am not the Messiah.” Well, that isn’t what they asked John, what they asked was who ARE you. But sometimes it’s just as powerful to deduct who we are not in order to discover who we are. It’s the chiseling away to find what really lies beneath the surface, to discover, who are we really? Michelangelo once said of sculpting that, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” I love that. The Wonderful Sculptor of dust and bone, soul and spirit is forever running His hands over our world in order to reveal that core place: the treasure-center that is our truest selves, whole and wholeheartedly His own possession.

Where are there rocks in your life, Charlie Brown? Could it be that with a change of perspective these are really just hidden opportunities to surrender all the more? Could it be an invitation to break open and see the raw beauty inside? To explore and discover the great worth that is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Leave it to Jesus to take my pitiful, “New Years suck” and turn it into a firework display of counting it all joy. So, New Years Day, you can still be my favorite holiday. I will just remember to open my arms a little wider, lean into the spin, befriend the chisel, and know that this could be the strike of heart that will expose the glitter within.

“We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours. Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. We continually share in the death of Jesus in our own bodies so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 TPT

*If you want to indulge more than just one sense, I suggest listening to Self Giver by Eikon. Words can only say so much, but words + an image + music can say more.

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