Looking back to the past 12 months of 2011 has been interesting to say the least. There was much drama, tears, happiness, sadness, celebration and even confusion added to the mix. I hope to reflect on some of the world events in the run up to 2012, but today I want to reflect back to my own life as I review 2011.

2011 saw the continuation of my senior year at seminary school. It was crunch time for my studies. I only had five months left before I finished my second degree course, but I honestly didn’t think I would make it through this particular course, especially when I juggled my final year with ill-health. My research dissertation didn’t help me either, which I find a bit ironic, as I chose to explore Bible-based Christian counselling as a ministry for the local church. Not only did I miss deadlines to draft chapters for my dissertation, I also suffered in poor health. My immune system was failing and I was still suffering from a viral infection from August 2010. Seriously! Even the doctors didn’t know what was going on with me. I knew it was a spiritual attack, although I did find myself constantly tired day-after-day. Since my perforated appendix in 2009, my health has never been the same. Thankfully, it was around May 2011 that my ill-health disappeared after attending a Light and Life event, where two people from the Healing Rooms ministry intercessed in prayer for this mysterious viral infection to be rebuked in Jesus’ name. God-incidentally, the mysterious viral infection left me for good.

I’ve also found my heart sink after coming to terms from losing a friendship with a dear friend. Although the central incident occurred during the summer of 2010 (coincidentally, the day before I was due to deliver a homily to the elderly at a care home after worship service), I was so fixed and focused on exploring a call to Christian ministry that I literally had no time to make-way for a pity party. It only hit home, when I graduated from seminary in July, when my parents visited my grandparents in Hong Kong and I was left to celebrate my graduation with some wise friends from my local church. At the end of the day, I didn’t commit to a woman who wished to live in a deeply-conservative Christian bubble. Nor was I interested in continuing a friendship riddled with lies. It didn’t help when I felt God had called me to explore seminary school, whilst placing in my heart to pursue opportunities to do local mission. Whereas, she was merely waiting for me to propose to her, so she could fulfil her life and follow her mother… which was to be a mother herself and homeschool kids all day (so they too can grow up in a Christian bubble). During this period of coming to terms, I was so thankful for the gift of discernment, as I found peace to move on with life. But hey, there’s no such thing as a perfect couple. Some people have yet to snap out of their happily-ever-after perfection and live out the reality of everyday life.

I also experienced one of the biggest joys and loses of 2011. The biggest joys came when my Dad dedicated himself to the LORD through baptism (full immersion). After growing up in the Church of Scotland for many years, it looks like he’s now settled nicely with the happy-clappy Baptists. I think everyone who heard his personal testimony found it inspiring on so many levels, because it was so close to his heart. For me, it was great to have my Dad back. It was equally touching when Dad asked me and my pastor to baptise him in October 2011. Since then, he has grown more closely with the LORD through a local Alpha group at our church. I’ll never forget the moment, when he requested to play Christian music from my MP3 player – the day after his baptism, as we were driving into work that morning. The guy is slowly understanding his purpose in life and that is to live a Christ-centred life and be a disciple for God. It’s been quite a journey to-date, and I’m glad he’s found a band of friends to share, pray and fellowship with. It also gives me the comfort and blessing to know that the LORD God is looking after my family.

Unfortunately, in November 2011 we lost a dear member of the family. I lost my grandmother. She passed away peacefully at the age of 79 years. My Dad is still going through the mills of accepting the loss of his mother. It has hit home to me, as I realised that I’ll be grieving alone when my parents are gone. Not only do I realise a sincere passion to settle down and marry, but I found a greater sense of appreciation and respect for my parents. It’s amazing how the LORD God can use a bad situation and turn it into a positive experience or reflection.

All in all, 2011 has been a rollercoaster of a year, but I believe in the hope of Christ – that everyday I can believe in renewed hope. No matter what you may be going through in life, you don’t need to suffer alone.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. -1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

~Richard