by Karen Ball
Ah, New Year’s. When hearts soar with best intentions and resolutions tumble around us like snow-melt waterfalls. Our hearts and minds surge with all we want to be, all we hope to accomplish, all we regret and want to change…
Okay, now, show of hands: How many of you make New Year’s Resolutions?
Again, show of hands: How many of you KEEP them??
If you were here, watching me, you’d notice my hand is down. I’ve made hundreds of resolutions over the years, and I’ve broken almost every one. It took me a lot of years to understand that this fact doesn’t make me bad or weak-willed or a failure. It took me several more years to realize that the new year isn’t, for me, about resolutions. It isn’t about saying what I will and won’t do.
It’s about listening.
Each year for the last 8 years or so, I spend the time leading to the new year listening. To God, first. In prayer, in the Word. To friends and family, second. Those who know—and, by God’s grace, love—me best. And then to the other voices/influences floating around out there, be they on the internet, on the radio, in overheard conversations, or where ever. I just keep my ears open…and listen.
For what, you may ask? Guidance. For that one word, phrase, thought, Scripture that God wants me to “get” in the coming year. When this guidance comes, I usually haven’t a clue what it’s about. And as often as not it’s not really something I want to do. Need to do, yes. But want? Yeah, not so much. Which isn’t to say God is making me suffer or anything like that. Just that each year, the word/phrase/Scripture has been about refinement. And drawing closer to Him.
For example, last year, it was “Be prepared.” Everywhere I turned, the phrase was there: in conversations, in sermons, in what I was reading and studying. Even in the books I was editing. With each confirmation, I felt it deeper in my bones: a change was coming. And I needed to prepare.
Boy, howdy, was that on target. Just look at last week’s blog for some of what we in the Ball-Sapp (Sapp is my maiden name, no jokes, please! Trust me, I’ve heard ‘em all!) household faced this last year. But through prayer and preparation, God’s grace overflowed in the face of it all. Didn’t make things easier, but it tenderized my heart to trust and endure.
So here I sit, at the dawn of yet another new year…listening. I don’t know what God will speak to me yet. But I’m ready. Waiting–
Oh. Wow. That’s it.
Okay, you may not believe this, but it just came. God just whispered to my heart, and now I know. That’s it.
Not just that, but wait…patiently. Two things I am NOT good at. Waiting. And patience. And even as I ponder it, I know. It’s about trusting Him. About not striving and trying to make things happen in my will and power, but trusting His guidance and provision.
It’s about doing what I know to do, but with a heart filled with trust, not fear.
It’s about the very things my hubby and I read this morning in Hebrews 10:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus… And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. …Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promises.”
Okay, so I’ve got my marching—or, more to the point, waiting—orders. How about you? Whether you’re a resolution person or not, I encourage you to take time this year as never before to listen. Listen for His whisper. Seek His guidance, in your life, in your relationships, in your career. Listen for His leading as you consider what to write and why. As you are pulled in one direction, then another…as you hear all the voices telling you what you have to do to succeed… as you weigh the many decision that will face you in this crazy, ever changing industry….
Yes, now more than ever, publishing rests on shifting sands. But we, my friends, do not.
Listen. Hear His voice. Then, and only then, act as He leads.
I can tell you, “with heart fully trusting Him,” that He will speak.