WHAT IN THE WORLD. HOW DID WE GET HERE?!
I’m currently sitting in my favorite bookstore in Oklahoma City, thinking about the new year. I’m so thankful for a new year. I’m thankful for new beginnings and the excitement that is attached to that. I also feel as though this new year in particular is already being set apart. I can’t tell you why, but there is something different about it. And while I usually am very skeptical about the feeling of different attached to things, I’m not. For once, I feel like a true optimist.
I’m also thinking back over 2017. It was January of 2017 where I sat back and just listened to God and what he was saying over the year. As I sit at this little cafe, I am typing and glancing over at the tattered piece of computer paper that I wrote out my verses for 2017 on. I had 12 verses so highlighted for the year and didn’t really see the correlation then, but now I see it. Verse from the Psalms, Proverbs, Philippians, Colossians and a few others all talking about very big things that I had the opportunity to grow through. As I read over these now, I could cry. Each verse was strategic. Each verse called out the very things I was weak in and spoke life to those weak places. This paper hung in my bathroom, where I could see it each day as I was getting ready in the morning. Did I read it everyday? No. Actually there were some mornings I saw that paper and wanted to cuss because I was in no mood to recite the verses out loud. Now that I think about it, I think I was more embarrassed that if I did read them out loud, I would be admitting weakness or that I needed help to make it through the day. WHICH ISN’T THAT THE POINT?! The point is we’re human and we’re weak and we cannot make it without a Savior. Can you see my struggle? My perfectionistic self hates admitting weakness and that I can’t do this myself. But the truth is, I can’t.
2018 is simplified. I have eight verses attached with my name meanings. I also have two words for the year on this paper. And… I feel as though I should share them with you and why they’re meaningful… so here goes.
“You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance” – Psalm 65:11 (NKJV)
This verse was prayed over me at my 31st birthday dinner by a dear friend. This friend and her sister have been such an encouragement to me throughout my transition back to Tulsa. Every word they spoke with me and prayed over me always had significance and always hit me in the heart (thanks Meg and Caitlin… I could cry over how thankful I am to have you in my life…). When Meg prayed this over me, it resonated deep in my heart. God has already crowned this year with goodness, with peace, with prosperity, with grace, with ALL THE THINGS I NEED. The path he has me on, drips with abundance. If that doesn’t make you SING WITH JOY you need to wake up! This year will be your year of goodness and abundance. It may be sorrowful at times, but God has already crowned you with everything you will ever need. That’s a promise you can cling to.
“Now all glory to God, who is able through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask, think, or imagine” – Ephesians 3:20
I like to add the word dream after think. Why? because God wants us to be asking, thinking, dreaming, and imagining. That’s what he created us for. If you’re not doing those things because you’re scared they won’t come true or they won’t happen, you’re missing the point. God created us and gave us his power. He lives and abides in us, which means, we’re connected. What I’m thinking about has an origin and connection to God. So why would I not ask, think, dream, or imagine what my life could be? Why would I not approach God with boldness that it just might happen and come true? Get out of the bitter barn and play in the hay! (Thanks to Phoebe Buffay for that line). It’s time to step outside the usual “it’s too big” box we’re in and do something different. Approach him and go for the big ask, go for the big dream or goal. Go for the biggest thing you can imagine and let God work.
“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on God, the author and perfecter of our faith” – Hebrews 12:1-2
I’m about to admit something that I’m sure you all do too. I like to read the first parts of verses and then stop. Because what if the verse goes on and has something in it I don’t like? Well, this is one of those verses for me. I would stop at “great cloud of witnesses” and think “that’s so cool, God. We’ve got people in our corner. Sweet!” This time, he was like “Hey Linds, read on please. You need this”. I hate this verse. I have to get rid of weights and sins that have me? BUT GOD, THAT MEANS I HAVE TO ACTUALLY DO WORK ON ME…. UGHHHHHHH. Yes. This is the journey we as Christians are on–we never arrive. We are always evolving, always changing, always growing. I feel like these verses are KEY to our walk. I have physical weight I need to lose, of course, but I have spiritual weight I need to deal with and let go of. I am bitter about some stuff, y’all, and it’s not easy for me to admit that. I’ve been mistreated and had my name smeared in the mud. I’ve had church people (I KNOW RIGHT?!) who have not been kind say things about me that really piss me off. I’ve had some challenges come up recently that feel very personal. That is the kind of stuff that can easily entangle us… because it gets our eyes off the God who speaks truth over you no matter what others say and gets us all in a tizzy over the dumb stuff that WHO CARES IF IT’S TRUE OR NOT. Those little things are what slows us down in this journey and causes us to stumble and get tired. I hate running, but if I’m going to be a woman of God who desires to hear him more clearly and show him to those I’m in contact with, I have to get rid of my weights and sins. Will it be a perfect process? Hell no. But I’m going to do my best and that’s all God asks of us.
“Instead, let the spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created like God, truly righteous and holy…” – Ephesians 4:23-24
I know I said above that I like to read the “good parts” of verses and leave out other stuff. This is one of those verses. I love Ephesians. If you looked at Ephesians in my bible, it might make your head spin. It’s colored on, marked up, worn out in certain spaces. But there’s so much in Ephesians that speaks to me. One of the very pieces that I have neglected is renewing my thoughts and attitudes. I didn’t do well at putting on my new nature. I find it funny that the wording of this is “put on your new nature”. It means it’s a decision. You decide how you’ll walk, how you’ll go through situations. (Holy crap… I’m preaching to myself right now… and very much realizing where I faltered this year… LOL. THANKS GOD). It’s a decision to renew your mind and have a new attitude. It is so hard to do that. I can think back to the moments where I did that well. Like at Starbucks. My pick up order took longer to process. I had a good attitude about that. But that work situation or that one kid who said something that was so blatantly not true about how I’m serving them… I did not have a good attitude about that. I dwelled on it too long. It would’ve been so much easier to let go, and rest in the truth I know God speaks over me. But I made the decision to dwell too long in my crappy mood and thoughts about the situation. ((Wow. This is going to be a fun year…. <insert rolling eyes emoji here>))
“We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God” – 2 Corinthians 3:4-5
I have confidence issues. I’m trying to work through them, but every once in awhile they get the best of me. I’ve noticed how my physical confidence is so attached to my inner, psychological confidence. I’ve also noticed how without the influence of the word in my life and in my heart, that psychological confidence can go nowhere fast and send me in a fury of anxiety and turmoil. I’m so thankful for God. I’m so thankful that on my worst day, he sees me as more than enough. He sees me as beautiful. He sees me as qualified. At my last job, I heard a lot about how I was not smart enough or was not qualified. Hearing that on a regular basis would kick anyone while they’re down. I struggled and wrestled constantly with how to proceed. Each time, these verses washed over me–“Linds, you’re qualified. You’re smart. You’re more than able to handle this situation. You’re graced with wisdom. You can do this because I say you can”. I’m pretty sure that’s all the confidence you need, right?!
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, through he is not far from any of us” – Acts 17:27
I love Paul. He’s legit. He calls things the way he sees it and speaks truth. In chapter 17, he has been all over Athens and has noticed some things that are striking him in a weird way. He stands up in a meeting with the leaders and people and calls them out for being religious. He tells them he sees the signs saying “to an unknown god” when he knows they know God and that he is real. I love how Paul very plainly tells the people God created us on purpose, with a purpose, at a very purposeful time and he did this so that people would seek him and find him and know he was never far away at any time. How beautiful is that? I love that God is so so near, even when I feel he is so far away, he’s right there. And literally, all I have to do is reach out and he’s right there. Honesty moment: I’m not good at reaching out for him. Goal for this year… reach out. He’s right there and wants me, all of me-the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“Truly my soul waits for God; he only is my rock and salvation; he is my defense. I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge is God. TRUST IN HIM at all times, you people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” – Psalm 62: 1-2, 5-8
And then there’s these verses. I think God is trying to say something to me about this year, y’all. It has everything to do with letting go and trusting in Him. When I read these verses, I got uncomfortable. I got knots in my stomach. I asked “you meant for another Psalm, right?” But no, this was it. This year is about purposeful growth. I have neglected this part of my spiritual walk for some time because I love to do things my way. If I can make something happen, I will do it. If I can go out and fix something, I’ll do it. Why wait and ask around when you can do it yourself? That mentality does not apply here. There are things that God specifically wants us to wait on him for and I so very often take away that opportunity from myself because I don’t like waiting. I hate the time it takes to see it through. This year, I’m going to be purposeful in waiting on the Lord, on letting him be my true safe place, my true strength and defense. I’m going to trust that he knows what is best for me and will be with me all the way through.
I don’t know if you’ve struggled this last year, but I believe this year will be one of purposeful growth. I know you all have your own thoughts and feelings about the upcoming year. If these verses help you, great! If not, find your own verses for the year. Put them where you can see them. Let them wash over your heart and mind. Be determined that 2018 will be exactly what God has for you. 🙂