Ever since I posted my “The Watcher” blog in mid-November, I questioned myself on which behaviors I needed to change to become a better watcher of God's will as it unfolds. This gave me a head start on my New Year resolutions. I was able to clearly discern three behavioral changes which ironically revolved more around my hearing than my seeing.
Inspired by Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”, I came to realize that I have neglected a significant portion of my spiritual growth by neglecting my spiritual hearing.
During 2011, Sunday School attendance was replaced with teaching Sunday School at the local jail. I wasn’t hearing Sunday sermons either because I developed a bad habit of skipping church after I completed my teaching obligation. So no sermons and no Sunday School lessons were hitting my ears. Reading God’s Word at home doesn’t translate into hearing either. Romans 10:17 specifically states that faith follows "hearing". It doesn't say "reading".
When it comes to writing, I have long adopted an opinion of author Stephen King which is, “A great writer is a great reader.” I find that the more I read, the more I am inspired to express myself through the same media. But what about this concept as applied to teaching? Shouldn’t a great teacher be a great student? I need to embrace my role as a student in order to become the best teacher and best writer I can be.
Therefore, the task list for 2012 is this: 1) attend worship services following teaching Sunday School at the jail, 2) join a Sunday evening life group to compensate for missing morning Sunday School sessions, 3) listen to the Bible on cd while note-taking. These disciplines should remedy my hearing problem.
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The Year of MORE
I make a practice of looking back at the end of a calendar year and giving it a one word descriptive title such as:
2006: The year of the Flood – (I cried almost every day that year.)
2007: The year of Tragedy – (June, Nov & Dec were the only months which lacked a personal tragedy.)
2008: The year of Anger - (my spiritual response to the year of tragedy)
2009: The year of Survival – (parted from my anger but not yet ready to move forward)
2010: The year of Progress – (Several significant life events occurred for the better which reset my life.)
2011: The year of Healing – (wholeness and happiness restored after five hard years)
Although I despise cold weather and the short daylight hours which the winter brings, one thrilling exception to the season is defining New Year goals and aspirations. I came to the three behavioral changes I listed in the introduction through my own logical reasoning prompted by my father’s advice. I didn’t need to pray over those disciplines; they were obvious steps toward obedience. Beyond those, I needed to consult the Lord for His choice of what I should focus my thoughts and energies toward in 2012. I prayed about it and the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Lord, what goals should I set for 2012?”
God: “It’s time to get uncomfortable.”
Me: “Okay. Sounds good. What specifically though? Do I need to register for a class? Portion some of my vacation toward a mission trip? Buy some new workout videos? How can I prepare?”
God: “It’s time to get uncomfortable.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll ask again later for details.”
After asking for specifics in several different settings I repeatedly got the same five word answer from Him in return. Eventually I realized that I’m not going to need preparation for what He will call me to do this year. Part of me being uncomfortable is me being unprepared. God means what He said and He has already blown the whistle to start the clock.
So, here I am venturing into the year 2012 armed only with anticipation. My resources are uncommitted; vacation time, spending money, free time on nights and weekends, etc. This realization burns a hole in my brain and tempts me to find a commitment for them. But that would be too comfortable. God has a distinct will which He has not yet revealed. I am called to be flexible, spontaneous and uncalculated, each of which equate to uncomfortable in my book.
Today is the fifth day of the new year. So far so good on behavioral changes 1-3, and yet I already found myself emotional this morning caught in the discomfort of His “uncomfortable" plan. Feeling hands tied, helpless, and unuseful, I got upset. Then, timed perfectly, God saw fit to bless me with a touch more clarity.
He whispered . . . “More: The year of More”
I can’t express what a relief it was to have just one more word of instruction from Him. I needed it. With that word I conclude that my history of good habits and deeds has achieved only mediocrity. God is lovingly pushing me toward more discipline, more church attendance, more praying, more listening, more seeking to serve, more physical fitness, more writing, more of everything in Him.
Today I praise God for a year of MORE to come.
This was the song helping me sort through these thoughts today. At 2.06 minutes into this song, my heart soars. Enjoy.