Faith Life

Brave New Year

January 8, 2014

I was up late the other night, working on house stuff, most probably, or Peaches. Up late enough for Andy Stanley’s late night show to come on. Work nights after M’s bedtime are like running a marathon. I’m always grateful to be awake when the show comes on, as if it indicates that I’ve stayed up just long enough.

This particular episode was about the one thing we all need to do in the new year (you can watch or listen to the episode here). He spoke from the book of Nehemiah. If you’re not familiar, Nehemiah was a Jewish man living in Persia, working in the castle as cup-bearer to King Artaxerxes I. He was heart broken for his homeland, and he was passionate about rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem that would protect the city and do so much good. King Artaxerxes allowed Nehemiah to go and work on the wall, but he had haters, people who stood to lose by the rebuilding of the wall. And for every attempt at distraction, Nehemiah had the best response:

I am doing an important work, and I cannot come down.

As Andy Stanley said, when you hear that phrase, you know in your heart that there is an important work you are called to be doing, something that needs your intense focus this year.

It could be the marriage that you are building, the children that you are raising, a relationship that needs your focus and attention.

It could be your health, or a habit that needs to be made (or broken).

It could be your intimacy with Jesus.

It could be that your tired, worn out heart needs rest this year.

So I’ve been thinking about my one thing for 2014 — and honestly, the number one thing that comes to mind is my family. This marriage that is so precious and rare. This little girl that I am building up into a courageous, beautiful, smart, creative woman of God.

I am doing an important work, and I cannot come down.

They need my full attention this year.

But there are other areas, little hints here and there, where I sense a whisper or a calling to come out on the water. It would be so easy in my job, for example, to be the person in the closet who builds, builds, builds and never ventures out beyond the familiar. It would be easy to let Peaches go on existing quietly as our little project, but never really launch it.

It would be easier to listen to the critics in my head that shush my voice, crowd my thinking, and silence my creativity.

If there is one thing I want to do this year, one thing I want to be, one thing that I want to change, it is this:

I want to be brave.

I read Lisa Jo Baker’s post this morning about the one thing she wants to do differently, and it has captured my attention most of the day. I followed her links over to Ann Voskamp’s site, and this phrase stuck with me:

I want to learn by heart the heart of God.

I want to walk in the possibility that He promises, and I want to find rest this year, the soul-filling kind of rest that an afternoon nap or a weekend of sleeping in just can’t provide.

Lisa Jo and Beth and Ann are leading the charge forward to a No-Fear New Year, and I want to join them.

Teach me to be brave.

And if I’m being honest, I have no idea what that looks like. But I know that I want to believe the impossible is possible. I want to take risks and to trust God’s goodness and His love. I want to know His heart.

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Matthew 9:23-24

Teach me to believe.

Sometimes a year can leave you so worn out that by the time the New Year rolls around, the weight on your shoulders feels like more than you can bear, and it’s all you can do to lift up your head and say, “Okay, here we go again.”

But the promise of a New Year is a fresh start, a clean beginning, and the bright, bright hint of possibility.

So this year, my one thing is to be brave and believe God. I want to step out on the water, feel the waves rock under my feet, and muster up the courage to take another step. I want to find rest in the unforced rhythms of grace. I want to be fully present for every beautiful moment with my sweet family and not lose focus on this, my most important work.

What does that look like for you? Do you have one word for this year? Or one important work that needs your attention? I would love to hear about it.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Mom/Wanda January 9, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Wisdom to find balance.


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