This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' - Jeremiah 6:16
Last year I wrote a post on New Year's Day - not about the resolutions I would make and not keep, but about what I truly longed for God to do in my life over the course of the coming year. I have seen Him do all of it - and while I will grant you that there is still room to grow (and probably always will be, this side of eternity), I have seen His faithfulness. So I can't help but want to revisit the idea. :)
Last years' hopes, as posted:
1) I would like to see God's hand at work in the development of my character. I want to become a more humble person, more caring, more compassionate, more honest, more trustworthy, a better friend, a kinder person - more like Jesus. I want to love God and my neighbor not because I "have to" or because it's right, but because it's an honest extension of who I am. I cannot become those things on my own. I need Him to refine me.
2) I want to recognize God's voice more clearly and more readily. To do this I need to spend more time in worship, more time in His Word, and more time in His Presence. I need Him to teach me how to hear His voice.
3) I want the Lord to teach me how to trust Him more deeply than I already do. I am aware that this means He will likely lead me into (or allow) circumstances that will require me to trust Him. Remind me I said this, but I'm okay with that, if it means that I truly learn to trust Him for everything I need, materially, emotionally, spiritually - everything.
1) I would love to see God continue all of that in me on an even deeper level.
a) I want to be even more transparent about the things that are really going on in my life than I currently am. I was closer to that a year ago than I am now; I wrote a few things last winter about being transparent, but I have allowed the hurt that resulted from risking in that area with some people that I trusted to prevent me from being as real as I could be with everyone. I do recognize the need for discretion. Nonetheless, I can be more honest and more forthcoming both in terms of what I choose to write about and in topics I choose to discuss than I have been, and I would like to become a less guarded person - not simply because being truthful is healthy but because it might actually help some people to benefit from my experiences, even the more awkward and less than perfect ones.
b) I want to be more practically missional. I think God has done a lot in my heart in terms of stirring compassion over the past year - but I need to get out of my little comfort zone and actually find people who need help. Or maybe open my eyes to actually see the situations that cross my path that I could do something about... even if it's "just" prayer. "Just..." As if. Prayer is where most of the work gets done, tho it's true that God often uses us to put hands and feet to the work...
c) I want to hear God's voice more often. He's gone out of His way (it seems to me, tho really, I bet He had it planned all along) to answer that particular prayer about hearing His voice more clearly. He's proven to me on so many levels and very consistently this year that I do actually hear His voice... but the hearing of it, and His faithfulness to do what He's said, has made me long for more consistent and more sustained conversation with Him. Something I have been praying for over the past couple of months and for which I am truly longing is for God to speak to me through visions and dreams. That said, I realize that my part is to listen... But I would also like to learn how to interpret what I hear rightly, as I think it's possible that some things He's said over this past year I've heard rightly, but interpreted incorrectly.
d) I want to learn to trust God for His timing. Those of you who know me best know that something I have genuinely longed for is to be married to a godly man whom I love and who loves me tremendously and with whom I can serve God in all the ways that I've been called to serve Him. It's become fairly apparent that at this point in my life, His opinion is that I'm just fine as I am - that I do, as Paul advises, serve God better, at this point in time, as a single woman. I want to be okay with that. I want to not dream of "something better" but live in the reality that because this is His path for me, it is already better. I want to stop believing the lie that there is something wrong with me because I have not managed to "land" a husband (as if it were really as simple as fishing for him) - and I want to embrace the truth that God's plans for me truly are the best ones, and remember that every "failed" relationship or crush is simply evidence that God has protected me from a path that wasn't meant to be...
2) I want to experience a deeper love for God's Word. I want a more consistent devotional life - not because you're "supposed" to have one - (I mean, really, what do Christian people in tribes who don't have God's word written out in their language yet do for a devotional life? does it mean they're not saved because they don't have "quiet times"? I don't think so...! This expression needs redefinition!)- but because it reflects the reality of a deeper walk with God. I want to walk and talk with Him throughout the day, not simply for 25 minutes before 6:15am. And I want to memorize His word, so that when I need it, it's there, in my heart and in my mind, even if the practical nature of my day has not allowed for that hour of worship I'd really love to build in...
3) I want to understand and more confidently walk into the specifics of the calling(s) that God has on my life. I think I'm beginning to put a few of the pieces together, but I'm still not sure that all the pieces are in the right place yet. I want to walk away from this year understanding a little more clearly exactly what my giftings are, what my passions are really (as opposed to the ones I've been told I should have - if there's a difference), and I want to see myself living into them more than I am right now.
and 4) I want to learn to live in a more perpetual state of Sabbath rest. Ironically, that's where this blog began... My very first post ever was about rest and my need for it and its relationship to the expectations (either self-imposed or felt) to which I felt I was not quite attaining properly... It's no secret to anyone who's been reading my blog this year that I struggle often with a sense of complete failure at "measuring up", with perfectionism, and with a "socially-acceptable" level of over-commitment at times. God has brought me a long way in all three of those areas over the past couple of years, and in the past 6 months in particular, I have seen Him at work in my heart, healing the places that need it and re-structuring the way I think and therefore the way I behave - but there's more to do. That road trip this summer was truly a pivotal series of moments. As I wrote then, "the entire trip (and this is only the briefest account of it!) felt like one great metaphor for life and this journey I - we - are on. It was about being at rest, learning to hear His voice, living out of that place of abiding in His presence even when things are busy and/or uncertain, trusting Him, following Him. It was about learning how to allow the Lord to sustain me, rather than trying to do it myself." It was like I came home with this internal meter by which to measure my state of rest - a deep, experiential understanding of what rest felt like, so that I'd know when I was there and when I wasn't. I am not yet there as often as I'd like to be.
So here's to a New Year. Last year was incredible. I am still floored that everything that happened in it really fit in one year. I am truly looking forward to seeing what He'll do this year. :)