Can I make a little confession? Lately I’ve been peering over the edge of this year to look into the next… and found myself vacillating between eager anticipation and gut-wrenching fear.
How do I start the year well and make sure that it ends even better?
What is God’s plan for the coming year – for myself, my calling, my generation, the world?
What is that one Word that will define the year to come?
These are questions that many of us ask whenever this time of year comes around. We ask these questions because they are a manifestation of what Holy Spirit has deposited in our hearts – Eternity. “He has placed eternity in the hearts of men” Ecclesiastes 3:11. We ask because deep within each human heart is a knowing that we were created for greatness. We were created to leave a lasting legacy.
So we search for purpose and direction – and if we’d allow His Spirit in with open hearts, that search is designed to escort us deeper into the very heart of God Himself.
I have loved the waiting-on-God parts. The dreaming & hoping & planning – that I absolutely love and thrive on.
But here’s where my heart catches & trips on itself sometimes – I take a good look at where His Spirit is leading me, at the mission and mountain(s) I am required to overcome, and I am afraid. Like the disciple Peter, I turn my eyes upon the waves and get more impressed with their strength (and what I am doing) than I am with the power of the One who designed them.
Perhaps you are like me, excited and sometimes anxious about the future. Or maybe, instead, you are in a place of not knowing where to go or what to do. Wherever you are today, here are some ways to help you (and me) step fearlessly into the new year.
1. Get to know your God
“Hey girl, don’t you know who I am? This story you’re seeing is just the beginning, I’m only getting started.” God spoke this to my heart today. To put life into perspective, we must get to know our God. We were made for Him and by Him, and apart from Him life makes no sense. And the beauty of getting to know God is that the deeper we get, the more we discover of the depth & vastness of Him. It doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or just starting out on the journey, or maybe even a little lost on the road – God can, and wants to, encounter you anywhere.
A big question that I get often is, “How do I hear the voice of God?”… Because how do we get to know God unless we can hear Him speak? I have a blog series coming up in January that will cover the topic of hearing the voice of God in greater depth, but for now here are the simple foundational truths of the matter.
God wants you more than you could ever want Him. Let this truth get deep down into your spirit. Without a revelation of God’s love for us, our pursuit of Him will only lead to strife, pride and/or discouragement. We draw near to Him because He first loved us and called us, and that’s good news for us because that means we have full access to Him anytime we choose to say “Yes”!
God speaks. Today. God is alive and real and fiercely present in your life – He is the same God who spoke to Abraham and Moses, and He would speak to you face to face today. Let the first thing you do in the new year be to get rid of all the doubts and questions. Repent of unbelief. Ask the Lord to help you in areas where you want to believe but find resistance in your heart – He will help you, promise. He wants to speak to you and you don’t have to cajole/bribe/earn His attention.. what a relief!
Take time to wait. For an hour, or even just 15 minutes a day. Our souls need time to bask and breathe in God’s presence, dear heart. If you are too busy to wait on God a few minutes a day then you are TOO busy – God gave each one of us just enough time for everything that we need to do each day (and that includes rest, time with loved ones, and space for our souls to just breath). Cut out all the noise and extra things. Ask God to speak to you, and keep waiting till He does. He might speak to you through a Taylor Swift song, or in nature, or even through a little child – don’t keep Him in a box, because He loves to encounter each one of us in our unique ways. Enjoy the courtship (;
Journal. A little word that you think you heard God speak to you. A Bible verse that caught your heart. A prophecy/prayer given to you by a friend. Write all these down. You’ll be surprised a few months down the road when you look back and see how all your journal entries came together like little jigsaw pieces to form a bigger picture of what God is saying/doing in your life.
2. Get the big picture of who you are
When God created woman, she was called “Ishah” which means “Woman”. Ishah was simply who she was. The woman fell when she began to doubt God’s heart for her, allowing fear to creep into her heart, and decided that she needed to take control of her own life. God’s curse on her (and all her daughters) was that there would be great pain in childbearing. This includes the nurturing & bearing to full maturity of everything in our lives that require nurturing & incubation – ideas, hopes, dreams, relationships.
“Ishah” was changed to “Eve” – mother of all living things. No longer was woman defined by who she was; from then on she’d be defined by what she did. And isn’t being defined by what we do the reason why so many of us strive, compare, and get jealous/insecure?
BUT the purpose of the curse was not to punish the woman for her fear & doubt – God is neither petty nor vindictive. Rather, through the curse He planned to bring about the restoration of order that was lost during the fall – through the woman’s struggle to bear fruit in her life, she’d have to turn to God for help and learn to trust Him, acknowledging that she couldn’t do it on her own. It was God’s way of restoring womankind to the way they were created to function – at rest, at peace, trusting in God’s provision for them. And through His plan that culminated in Jesus, we now have a way back to the glory of Eden.
Who are you when all the hustling and doing is stripped away? Who are you, just as you are, without your accolades and accomplishments?
God welcomes you to enter into His presence with empty hands – come without pretense and without strife, lifting up your empty hands so He can fill them up with good things. Go into His presence and wait there, let Him whisper to you all the wonderful, beautiful words about who He made you to be. Capture a glimpse of your destiny through His eyes.
3. Get more impressed with God than anything else
The times that my heart has tripped over itself are the times that I’ve found myself more impressed with anything/anyone else than I am with God.
Here’s what I mean – I start to fall when I start to number my people and count my treasures. Just like King David and King Hezekiah did (Verse references: 1 Chronicles 21, 2 Samuel 24, 2 Kings 20, Isaiah 39), I sometimes catch myself reveling in the glow of the victories & blessings that God has brought me to. I count my accomplishments and all the ways that I have been winning… and it takes just that split second to fall down the slippery slope.
Because you see friends, when we start to number our people and count our treasures, it doesn’t stop there. It inevitably leads us to compare our wins with the wins of others; feeling relieved and affirmed when our numbers best theirs, getting discouraged and frustrated when they get ahead. We end up locked in the cycle of being impressed with ourselves, with others, with new win strategies.
What if we stopped counting our treasures and took God at His word, “I am your shield, your very great reward”? What if we saw that He alone was our treasure, and everything else flowed from Him, through Him, and for Him?
It would be worth a try to start the year with this one request, “Lord, help me get my heart centered on celebrating the impressiveness of you. Show me more of You and take my eyes off of me. Impress me, Lord!”
I am willing to bet you that if you said this prayer (and meant it) everyday for the rest of next year, you would have a TON of amazing stories to tell by the end of it.
Walking with God is a great adventure, and with our hands in His there is nothing we have to fear! How we embark on the discovery of our life’s purpose, and how we find God in the process, is something that I will be covering in a little more depth with a blog series in January. Share your thoughts + questions with me and I’ll do my best to address them. Till then, happy new year, friends!