Whistles And Stuff: Thoughts On 2018

by Rich on December 31, 2018

My stepdad knows how to whistle. I don’t mean whistle a tune (although he can do that too), I mean curl the tongue, take a deep breath, and pierce the stratosphere with a sound that can be picked up in a different time zone. I never mastered that skill, and it’s one of those life regrets that nags at me. What a sound! It was the unmistakable call to me when I was kid, playing out in the neighborhood or straying to far from the herd on a family outing. It was his “attention getter” (is ‘getter’ a word? It is now). And it got my attention. It demanded my attention. And my response. It wasn’t enough to merely head home. He needed to know that I had heard and was on my way. Yelling, “COMING!!!” at the top of my lungs became a well practiced habit.

Whistles. Attention getters. Keep those in mind.

It’s the end of 2018 and all over social media and IRL (In Real Life, for the uninitiated), I am seeing and hearing a common theme, and it goes something like this: “Glad this year is over! 2018 was the worst! Bring on 2019, because it HAS to be better than this horrible year!” To quote James Bond, one sympathizes.

I have also had similar feelings about the past year, and then I was asked two questions. What was the best thing that happened this year, and what was the worst? After some prayerful introspection, I realized that the answer to both questions was the same thing. What that thing is isn’t important to my point, just that it was the same thing.

2018 has had it’s share of highs and lows for me, like it has for most of us, I imagine. But the more I look back, the more I realize that what seemed like heartbreaking lows, were, in fact, much deeper and filled with more meaning than mere setbacks, losses, hurts or disappointments.

They were whistles.

God has used a number of events over the last year to get my attention. Some have been louder and more shrill than others, but they have been unmistakable. I have lost dear friends. Close relationships have ended. Dreams have faded. Goals have been missed. A car blew up (seriously). And all of these things have been God using his attention-getters to extend His grace to me, though I no more deserved it than did Saul on the road to Damascus.

I am so eternally thankful for this year. I am thankful for the joys and the sadness; the successes and the failures. I am thankful because each day of 2018 has been a gift from God. It is only my lack of understanding, response and faith that leads me to be ungrateful for those days.

And here’s the thing… that doesn’t change with the flipping of a page in the calendar. It’s true today, next Thursday, or twenty years from now.

I have grown more in this last year than any single year I can remember, and that is one hundred percent due to the fact that God has extended to me His grace to hear His call, His whistle. In retrospect, I should have heard it years ago. But I’m a stubborn, selfish, ungrateful child. But now I have heard it. And I pray that I hear those whistles in the future, and that He doesn’t have to keep using His attention-getters to teach me what He wants me to know; to help me to be what He wants me to be.

2018 is the year that His whistle pierced through the noise of my life, and now I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, “COMING!!!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom January 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I am in tears, – you once were blind, but now you see . . .! ” God is too good to be unkind, He is too wise to be mistaken. Therefore, when you can’t see His hand in your life, Trust His heart.” That is a truth you have learned at a deep level and will be able to call on even in the roughest of times. I am grateful for your openness to His working in your life. Love you son and appreciate your using your gift of writing
to share these insights.

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PHP January 1, 2019 at 2:36 pm

As one who has also heard the “Whistle’s” of God calling, it is a blessing with pride to read your penned heartfelt ascent to His work and call in your life. Stay loved and blessed.

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