Happy New Year, my friends. (Yes, it’s January 4th. I am pregnant, you know.)
If you’re anything like me, you always have some reflecting or reorienting going on, but certain seasons seem more unique and when God works out the logistical details, you run with it.
A lot I’ll keep between me and God. A lot I’ll share with you as I go. First, a word from Hebrews,
“Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith.” (12:1-2, Phillips)
I realized something this year. While I desire to be a courageous, unanxious presence, eternally minded, rooted-in-Christ woman in the world, often more practically I’m a sleepy woman who knows how to run fast away from uncomfortable, worrisome, boring, painful moments. What I really long for is to learn steadfastness, to stay in a moment WITH God, instead of turning to what’s easier, what entertains, what feels better to my flesh.
Jeremiah talks about the two ways of being in this life, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord… blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (17:5, 7-8)
I turn away from God when I’m preoccupied with Self, the kingdom of Me, when I’d rather satisfy my soul with unneeded things of the world, when I fight against moments of discomfort and idolize ease, when I measure my joy and worth by standards not Christ.
I trust in Him when I trust He’s enough. When I take Him at His Word. When I lean into sufficient grace over my own abilities. When I entrust my life and my loved ones lives to Him alone. When I prioritize Him. When I commit my day to Him. When He is Lord of my moment.
“I peer out the window to watch the birds circling above and flitting around, energized by the setting sun. They have surrendered their loads. They are free in the sky, roaming untethered and cageless. They will not sow or reap. I think, then, of myself. I think of the weight I carry to pad myself from need or discomfort or boredom. I think of the homes we build like birdcages with garage doors, and I think of how we roam this earthly, privileged soil directionless in a sea of more. I think of all of us, weary in our suburban coffee shops, amassing everything my friends in Ethiopia need but having nothing they want…. Ask an Ethiopian what they need and they might tell you with a wide smile; amassing is meaningless. There is only today, with holes in our pockets, with time spilling out. We cannot keep it for tomorrow. We cannot mend our seams to hoard, save, carry. Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings.” Erin Loechner
Where God invites me to stand firm, to hear His voice or surrender a fear or be stripped of an idol, I escape fast in the form of impulsive shopping, Instagram, being thought of highly, Netflix, gluttony, laziness or getting things right (sneaky pharisaism). Weight on my wings. One eye on my comfort or my popularity or my performance, one eye on God. But life is too short, the spiritual need too great and God is too beautifully real to not run the race more freely and lightly. Right?
“Our admiration for Jesus causes us to keep choosing to be his disciple as we (internally) desire more than anything to be like him and (externally) arrange our life to bring this about. We develop a personal strategy that usually includes spiritual disciplines targeted at places of growth the Spirit reveals. Then we’re ready to fill our minds with the real treasure of Christ and to become his hands and feet to our family, our friends and the needy.” Jan Johnson, Abundant Simplicity
My ‘personal strategy’ will begin on January 6th, Epiphany, and go through April 17, Easter. I’ll implement a few thoughtfully chosen disciplines of simplicity that are bound to stretch and convict me, praying it makes space for God’s Spirit to cultivate steadfastness in me, to quiet the many voices that bombard and to tune in to His voice inside me. Both eyes on God… for the people He gives me to love and the work He gives me to do.
Let’s not be too casual or too sleepy about the opportunity we have to know and experience God, to be part of His work in someone’s life, to savor the fullness of abundant life today. The enemy would love that. Let’s live awake!
So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.1 Corinthians 15:58, TPT
If you’re curious about my specific choices, or would like to join me on the journey, please feel free to email me! Maybe I’ll write about them as I go. If you don’t have my email, drop a comment. :)
PS – Thanks for sticking with this post to the end!