Glory, hallelujah for January 1! How does it feel to be settling into a new chapter?
We are reaching nine full days in 2017. I don’t know about you, but the first week of the new year I believe that almost anything is possible. I can write the book. I can shed the weight. I could fall in love. I can start brand new.
I hope that I will serve you all better and love you well in 2017. There are literally thousands of internet homes you could be visiting instead, and I don’t take it lightly that for even a shred of time I hold a piece of your valuable time and your heart. I want to make this space inviting, beautiful, and challenging (in all the best ways) for you all year long. I might be more quiet some months more than others, because this year holds big changes for me as well as time dedicated to a few nameless-for-now-Kingdom-rooted goals. But, I promise, you never leave my mind and you are one of my favorite places to land, to reflect, to grow in Christ’s love and instruction.
This year, I didn’t hold back on my goals. Last year, I set some worthy ambitions but never broke them down into attainable, daily steps. The truth is this: you don’t get a renewed mind without being in the Presence of God, a new body without putting something different in your mouth, and you don’t get a cleaner house by googling “cleaning strategy”. I looked into the face of the things I want in my own life that I have the power to control and said, “This. This is your year.” I threw my excuses in the garbage. I began. I’ve started a vision board. I’ve processed through the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2016. I’ve made a plan of how I want to steward my time. When I stumble on the way, I stop playing victim and continue chasing. But here is the thing: beginnings feel sexy. It is exciting to feel the burn after your first post-holiday workout. It is thrilling to see the first few pounds shed during your first week of clean eats. It doesn’t feel daunting to dig into a project, the study, the semester when you have a bright idea of how it will all turn out. We all know and have experienced that change doesn’t last all year long on adrenaline alone. I won’t succeed with my ambitions this year until they become actions in my daily routine. You don’t become an avid prayer warrior by talking about it, you don’t get the date without asking for it. You’re never truly loved until your heart is exposed. You don’t get vibrant, bigger faith by playing it safe.
Good intentions? Ideas? Pinterest boards? They are home base. They are wonderful tools to keep you going! We kickstart from those spaces, but we don’t succeed until we choose the same thing every day when we get up in the morning. Do you want to know how to get the year you really want? The one you start itching for the day after Christmas? Make a choice. Make another choice. And keep making those choices 365 times.
This is my urge, my push, my call to you as we plunge wholeheartedly into the new year:
“…Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:6-7
FAN INTO FLAME THE GIFT OF GOD
You have a gift unlike any other. It won’t blossom by itself. Fan that baby into flame! Pray over it, exercise it, feed your heart with truth, weed through the lies, and repeat! Sure, this year won’t go like you plan. Life will throw you curveballs and you might wonder what is worth all the inconvenience. You’ll get discouraged. But you know what is bigger than our daily anguish and disappointments? God’s love and majesty, grace and joy. If we live like we believe in those things, He will readjust our hearts, shape our manmade goals into God dreams, and mold our year into something so beautiful only He could do it.
NOT OF FEAR
I know the main way that people try to run out the back door on their new year resolutions on January 15th, April 2nd, July 4th is through fear. I’m not good enough, I don’t have time, why does it even matter? You have to believe that you’ll have the strength to not stay the person you were the year before. That means you’ll experience joy and discomfort, both of which can be terrifying. Don’t dwell in what didn’t get done in 2016. Push. Let go of the weight of your own expectations and let God use you. Run. You are worth it. You belong here.
If we are in Christ, we have the power of the living God who rose Jesus Christ from the bloody grave by his mighty grace inside of us.
The real question is, church, what can’t we do if we are battling on the side of the Father? Running after God dreams? Fighting the good fight of faith? Becoming a better temple for His Spirit to dwell? Seeking to glorify Him in all things?
In our frailties and bitterness, the paradox of the human heart, God gives us the growth of lovingkindness. He gives us the love and we hand it right back to Him as a sacrifice when we reveal that kind of true love to the people under our roofs, in our circles, at our tables, across the street, and around the world. Because we have His power, we are able to minister His love with wider implications and a much deeper impact. What if love got a bigger name than chaos did in 2016?
What do you need to say no to in order to say yes to the ministry God is awakening inside of you? A quiet, suffocating addiction? A relationship? A responsibility that zaps life out of you? Brothers and sisters, He has given us the power to say no to things that don’t love us back, anything that keeps us from healthily furthering the gospel, and the love to make the tension of the decision worth it.
We’ve been commissioned to do shocking, tough, holy things. We weren’t given a spirit of laziness, of doubt, of unbelief. Power is yours. Love is yours. Self-control is yours.
What would you do if you were automatically promised a yes? Success? Being loved back? If you had never been burnt out? Start there and stay faithful.
In Jesus’ name, what will you accomplish?