Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jesus is Calling...

A new pretty cupcake calendar for the new year? Yes please! :)

I changed out my calendar at work this morning, and I have to say that my new cupcake-a-month calendar makes me very happy. But it also meant I was back to reality. Holidays and vacation time are over, and it is time to get back into the swing of things. But while "normal" life may be resuming, there is definitely a sense of a fresh start and new beginnings. I know, isn't that usually how a new year works? :)

I have never really been one to make new year's resolutions. It's not that I don't have goals, it's just that over the years, I have needed to shift my focus a bit. In the past, my goals have tended to be self-focused (in a bad way), and I spent a lot of time and effort seeking my own agendas and things I thought were important...only for the Lord to direct me otherwise. So I'm not against goals; goals are good to have. I just tend to feel constrained by resolutions made at the first of the year. That's probably weird, but I can't help it. So I typically skip the new year's resolutions, and just start new things and set new goals whenever the Lord lays them on my heart. It keeps my thoughts a little more focused, allowing me the freedom to wait on the Lord and follow His leading. Whatever works, right? ;)

With that being said (goals or not), there is undoubtedly something refreshing about the start of a new year. A fresh start and new beginnings. The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I feel as though I have been in survival mode. The transition away from friends and community and into a more intense work commute proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated. There were many days when this routine-loving (and somewhat routine-dependent) girl struggled to make it through without feeling like I was completely losing my mind. My heart became complacent, and I allowed my circumstances to dictate my attitude (in a negative way). I lost sight of my purpose and my blessings. And what is usually the case when I lack discipline and focus, my sinful heart bred frustration, discontent, a complaining spirit, and a prideful heart. Yuck. Double Yuck.

Enter my saving grace.

I praise God for His abundant (and absolutely undeserved) grace and mercy. That He doesn't allow us to continue in our sin, and that He disciplines those He loves (= me). That His Word is true and faithful, meant "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." A few weeks ago, I started a study of the book of James with my sweet friend Laura. In many ways, she has been an unending source of encouragement to me. From listening to me complain and gently helping me recognize my sin, to lovingly walking through this transition time with me...the Lord has definitely used her to speak to me.

We have been walking through the book of James, and it has been like a salve for my soul. Partly because James has some strong and convicting words that I have long needed to hear, but mostly because I needed to be back in a consistent study of the Word. I have been praying for the return of a deep longing and hunger for His Word (because my confession is that I lost it for awhile), and He has been faithful to provide it.

I told Laura the last time we met to talk through our study that I feel as though a cloud has lifted. I can't tell you what has changed; nothing about my circumstances have changed. But I can tell you that it is a relief, accompanied by peace and hope, that I am certain comes only from the Lord. That's not to say that the days ahead won't be difficult; I will have to diligently seek the Lord and rely on Him to stay focused. But He has encouraged my heart and has provided the strength I need to face the days ahead with a renewed sense of purpose and hope.

In addition to studying James with Laura, I am walking through a Bible-In-A-Year plan. I actually haven't worked through a specific plan in several years, so I am excited to be purposeful in making it through the entire Bible in one year. This specific plan walks through 6 different sections of the Bible in a week (Poetry, Pentateuch, Old Testament History, Prophets, New Testament History, Epistles). It's a different approach that I am pretty excited about. For Christmas, my mom gave me a devotional written by Sarah Young called "Jesus Calling." It's a collection of words and Scriptures that Jesus laid on the author's heart. A little like when I wake up to whispers from God or He places a song on my heart. Her journey of transforming her prayer life into more of a dialogue (as opposed to a monologue) is written as if Jesus Himself is talking to you. Perfect for where I am right now.

The Lord has repeatedly brought to mind the following verses...

"Be still and know that I am God..."
Psalm 46:10

"Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!"
Psalm 105:4

So my charge for the coming weeks is to simply LISTEN. To relearn how to be in and experience the presence of God. Jesus is calling....I want to be ready to listen and hear His voice.

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2 comments:

  1. Oh James, it is so convicting... so grateful to be walking through it with you though! Love you, friend!!

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