2013? Its so nearly over. What are your plans for the New Year?
I’ve been thinking about the phrase New Year. There were times on New Year’s Eve when I longed for the NEW. I wanted the coming year to be completely different from the burnt out ends of the year I left behind. I needed something new. I’d pray (prey on?) these words from Isaiah 43:19
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
There were new years when new things sprung up in my life. A new relationship, a new season, new mission and calling. Life was different and we used words like breakthrough and shift and not only did we mean it, it was the best way to describe what He was doing.
Other years, not so much! I strained with my hopefully- faith- filled-but- more- probably-desperately- wishing – eyes to see the new. I told myself ( fervently!) that change, fulfilled promises, breakthrough, was just around the corner. But it was another year, not a new one. Consequently, some years it was harder to hope and pray. Disappointment has a habit of going viral in your faith journey infecting situations beyond its rightful borders. I found myself fighting thoughts about failure, trying not to lose.
Do you look forward to the new year because of a new chapter in your life? Perhaps a new relationship or your family? A new job?
Are you seeing new things, new fruit emerge as you engage more intentionally with discipleship and mission? You feel ALIVE because missional community is growing and vibrant and you have seen people come to faith. You’re building a discipling culture in your church, and things are happening. You see disciple makers and they’re doing the stuff and the stories coming back are the one you’d always hoped you would hear.
New things can be exciting, affirming, exhilarating. But dare I say it… they can also be disorientating. When I’ve gotten used to the wasteland and the wilderness, the fresh God given springs of new life are a little startling. Who knew the heart could get used to being dry? Or, new things make me utterly giddy, with plans and ideas and thoughts and feelings and dreams and strategies and … breathe! So on weeks like these I make some time to slow down and receive what God wants to say about my life. Listen for what He wants to do. It’s so easy to run ahead, even (perhaps especially) in the blessing and excitement of the new. I need to be faithful to His word and ways.
What would it look like to receive the new things God brings to your life in 2014?
For some of us our year is not so much a new year, but another year.
What do we do when we get another year? Nothing new, radical or exciting. No major changes in our lives. You are still single. Family life is still challenging. The marriage pressures that existed on Dec 30 are still there on January 2. Your missional community is still hard work and your find outs difficult at best, and the lowest attended nights. You’re huddles are still… just OK. And you’re still wondering when your church/ ministry/community will reach that elusive tipping point on all this missional stuff. And honestly? Really honestly – it doesn’t look like anything is going to change any time soon. And that’s not being cynical of faithless; it just is what it is.
It is what it is, but how do we handle what it isn’t?
We might need to ensure that disappointment does not overstep its boundaries and go viral in our lives. We often underestimate disappointment’s power . It slows us down. It pollutes our peace and jades our joy. We might have to fight the temptation to hype up some long lost excitement. You know, when we postulate instead of prophesy… “This is gonna be the year and it’s gonna be amazing”…hoping God’s listening. How do we explain what is or isn’t happening in our world? How else do we keep people on board with this crazy missional journey?
In these times, preparing for another year, making time to slow down and surrender is a discipline. Wrestling the wilderness questions into the dust
Is God good when the landscape of my life is a wasteland? Is his still my stronger covenant partner, is he still the coming King?
I wrestle them into the dust because in these moments, the discipline to surrender is not found primarily in my feelings. It’s in a choice to be faithful. Standing when there’s nothing else to do. Getting up when we’re knocked down. One foot in front of the other, walking with my Friend and King. Faithful to Him, to his word, to his call and the life he’s given us.
What does it look like for you to walk with Him as you enter another year?
As I waiting on Him to lead into a new year, walk with me into another year there’s a song I hear. And so now I sing it back until it echoes in my heart ….
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end…
They are new every morning, new every morning
Great is thy faithfulness O Lord,
Great is thy faithfulness.