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.
Paul W. Coleman
Thank you for that beautiful and timely word!
Amen. Great post. The Hebrew word for wait means to be twisted together–a picture of being entwined with God. Patience in waiting is much easier when we’re twisted together with Him, enjoying His presence, trusting His strength and timing. We are impatient and strain for action when we’re focused on our goals rather than on our God.
Sharon A Lavy
I like that, twisted together with Him, and waiting.
Yes I agree. Significant dates in an annual calendar were widely used in biblical times, though I am not sure any reflected forward. They all reflected on the now, with respect to what went before. Whether recalling the passover and recounting that to their children, or reliving the tenuous lifestyle of the wilderness by retreating to booths, the Jews were always humbled by their roots and obliged thereby to avoid repeating their past mistakes. That is one vital consideration in the transition of years – and there again, Jews honor their own New Year through Yom Kippur. It is good to use such times to ask where we are in our life journey, how we got there and what adjustments need to be made in our continuing journeys, yet none of that is relevant nor will our mistakes stay behind us, unless we seek God’s counsel and grace in our lives.
Wow I so need this right now. The idea of waiting is on my mind right. Listening, being willing to listen and then taking heed are the keys.
Love this! But then again, anyone who uses the phrase, “boy howdy” must be filled with my kind of insight. “Wait” is such an important, Spirit-filled gift. Every time I find myself pulling up to that newly-turned red light when I’m in a hurry, I ask God, “Are you teaching me patience again? … I must really need it.” And of course, I do. I have recently learned to use those moments (at the red light, the long check-out line, etc.) to spend time praising my Creator. I don’t do this enough throughout the day. But now that I fill in these moments with Him, the waiting isn’t so hard. In fact, it’s now filled with His peace. Better than a Calgon bath :o).
Thank you, Karen. F.B. Meyer writes: “If God told you on the front end how long you would wait…you’d lose heart…But he doesn’t. He just says, ‘Wait. I keep my word…In the process of time I’m developing you to be ready.'” Good stuff, eh?
Judy Gordon Morrow
I’m grateful for your wise and timely words, Karen, and also for the insightful comments that followed. I have been waiting on God now for many years, and I can so relate to the F. B. Meyer quote that Grace shared with us. In more recent times, God has been teaching me to wait in joy and to be thankful for this time of refinement and preparation. He has assured me that waiting on him will always yield his best outcomes.
I appreciated your emphasis on listening to our Lord. For me, that has been the best benefit of the last 12 years in his waiting room. There is simply nothing sweeter this side of heaven than basking in his presence and communing with him.
Karen, I love the wisdom of spending the weeks of the waning year LISTENING to God, then family and friends, and then those other influences around you. I so forget to stop and listen when I’m making MY OWN plans or setting MY OWN goals. Thanks for the reminder!
Thank you for your post!
Waiting is hard for me. I am very impatient! Last year I applied for a teaching position as an art teacher at a Middle school. I wanted that job so bad I could taste it! I already had my classroom all laid out in my mind!
But the Lord said, “No.” -But I think He also said, “Wait…”. And so I have been waiting, and writing, and working at my current job. And the months have gone by.
This past weekend another school contacted me about a teaching position as an art teacher at a middle school. I prayed, I applied…and now I wait.
Will it happen this year? Will I finally get my own classroom? Will I finally get to inspire kids with my art? I do not know.
All I know is that I am waiting….I have a feeling 2012 will be about waiting on the Lord. Amen.
Blessings to you!
My word for 2012 is patience. Patience because I want to spend a lot of time writing and achieving but have other responsibilities. Patience because I want success NOW. But this year will likely be merely one of improving my craft (although every year should include this goal!). That’s OK as long as I’m moving steadily on toward my goal of getting an agent and getting published. Slow and steady wins the race!
Once again, I bow to God for rescuing me from impulsive tendencies. Several times in the past few days I’ve walked away from my computer before sending an email to the agency I’m wooing for representation. With the start of a new year, it was just going to be a quick email as to the status of my query, yet something held me back.
It’s taken a loooooong time for me to have the spiritual maturity not only to listen to that little voice, but to obey it.
Thank you for the assurance that He is in control.
Reminds me of one of my favorite Al-Anon slogans: Don’t just do something — stand there!
Last year my word was VICTORY, and “boy-howdy” (love that you say that too!) was it ever! Mostly for my daughter. God also told me that first week in January last year that it was a time for new beginnings. Wow, again!
So here I am again, in that first week of January, praying and fasting (with our ministry too) for words and scriptures for myself, my “pre-believing” hubby and my girls. My word this year is PEACE. Man-oh-man (there’s a new one for you) am I relishing that one. Been a crazy 5 years. And I love the verse He gave me with it, Isaiah 26:3.
Got a verse for hubby already, now just waiting on ones for my daughters and two special family members I will pray for this year to know God. I’m continually blown away by Him and his desire to share his Word with us! As you said, we just have to listen! 🙂
Great post Karen.
Waiting patiently is a lesson for all of God’s children. I remember going to Bible College in the 80’s seaking God’s will for me. I left after three years with no immediate direction, but one softly spoken sentence from the Spirit. “I know your heart, just remain faithful to me, I’ll let you know when I’m ready to use you.”
At the age of 47 He told me to write. I just received a comment on my blog that someone I never met felt like they were in the stable when the shepherds showed up by what I posted this week. I give all the glory to God.
PS Karen, look in your inbox for my two manuscript queries.
…and please hurry! 🙂
You could have waited a little longer for the rejections, Karen. 🙁 At least I tried 🙂 Have a nice day!
So I’m not the only one focusing and meditating on a word in 2012? I heard BRAVE. With regards to a)sharing my faith and b)writing endeavors.
Happy New Year All:)