Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Things We Can ALL Do This Year

I'm a little slow at welcoming this new year, 2013.  I think the holidays bowled me over and it just took me longer to recover than normal, or something.  But last night, I finally caught the fire in my belly for a new season.  A fresh start.  A bigger push in the right direction.

A few days ago, I jokingly tossed out some "resolutions" via Facebook and Twitter  - some of which are actual goals....some just for laughs.  (switch to liquid eyeliner, get my CHL - that's a real one, replace my fears with faith, etc....)  But something clicked in my brain and ignited my heart as I worshipped with my church family this weekend.  My weariness was consumed by a passion to make a difference, to love people fiercely, to follow after Jesus Christ with all my strength.  I was reminded of my earlier manifesto, and a good reminder it was.  But I have to keep moving with the Spirit, even from good thing to good thing, better thing to better thing...glory to glory.  There is motion involved.  MOVE.  Get up and go!  (I love that our God is immoveable, yet always on the move.  Go think about that for a while...)

So, I think there are 5 things that we can ALL do this year - "resolutions", if you will -  to make 2013 one for the record books:

1.  Move forward.

Turn your face toward the front, and take steps in that direction.  Don't let the vortex of your past failures, regrets or traumas keep you standing still, or even suck you back into the past.  That chapter is complete, and you are no longer in that part of your story.  Write a new paragraph and keep it moving forward.  Introduce new ideas, new characters and new places.  Dream big dreams and start walking toward them!

2.  Choose joy.

Life is going to kick you in the gut, that's the simple, honest truth.  There is no way to avoid pain and loss as a human being.  BUT, you have a choice to make, friend.  You can leave your thoughts and attitudes to their default settings of negativity, depression and doom, or you can choose to grab on to the joy God promises.  He's not just tossing out a metaphor and hoping to trick you with a fraudulent feeling of ooey-gooeyness in your heart.  He is the fountain of joy, and when you invite Him into your life, you can choose to ride on the waves of Spirit-joy even in the middle of the most difficult trials.  It takes an act of your will - a conscious choice; but it really can be done.  There is a higher plane of existence in Jesus.  That's where I'm living this year.

3.  Gravitate to the truth.

Because I trust Jesus, I believe His word.  And He tells me that He IS the way, the truth and the life.  I can attest to all these things in my life as He has proved Himself over and over and over.  He really is truth.  When all opinions have been aired, blogs have been updated and news outlets have reported, the only bottom line I'm looking for is what God says on the matter.  It's a good thing He's still speaking and that He leads us when we listen!  Each one of us is built with a God-receiver and we can all hear God's voice.  Even if you have not yet opened your heart to Jesus, you can still hear God.  Listen for Him and learn from Him.  Respond to Him.  He is truth.

4.  Soften your heart.

I have felt more up-in-arms over the past few months than I have in a long time.  Politics, human rights, taxes, welfare, tragedies, injustice, hatred....our world is running amok, in case you hadn't noticed.  If I am not careful, I get caught in the trap of thinking in generalizations, missing the individual story, the precious person.  I must intentionally soften my heart and not let it harden from the outside.  I must keep it soft from the inside out.  And when I have trouble doing that on my own, I run to God who promises to "give a heart of flesh for a heart of stone."  (Ezekiel 36:26)  Each of us would do well to soften up a bit.  The key to a soft heart is humility - realizing that you are spiritually bankrupt without Jesus, and that only His transforming work in your life gives you a place to stand.  Realizing that you are a cherished daughter (or son) of God...and that every other person alive right now is one, too.  Some of them know it and some don't yet, but they are cherished by God nonetheless.  Political affiliation, opinions and life choices aside, each person is a treasure.  My only appropriate response to people is one of a softened heart.  I don't have to agree with everyone or condone every choice, but I will soften my heart and reach out across differences and grievances with love.

5.  Recognize a bigger story.

Your life is not just about you.  It never was.  If you can recognize there is something larger at work than yourself and your plans, then you begin to get a glimpse of the Kingdom of heaven.  God's Kingdom is not just somewhere up there in the sky...  it is carried inside you and me.  We can actually make His Kingdom bigger by how we live our lives.  We can establish His presence and His work in every place we go - if we walk with the Spirit.  There is a much bigger story, and therein lies the greatest adventure a heart could ever know.

Now that all the hooplah of the holidays is behind us, let's do something with this new year!  Be intentional about your days and don't just let them pass you by.  Make the most of your voice, your influence and your choices, because you matter.

Happy 2013!!!