Search This Blog

Friday, January 8, 2016

2016 Goal #1: Escaping Commonplace

I realize that this post may lose a few people, but it may also encourage those who care to read to the end, so I hope you will do just that. Not for me, not for the notoriety of this blog (ha!), but for the possibility that your mind may be opened and your heart may be encouraged. That is my prayer. So here it goes:

2016 Goal #1: Escaping commonplace.

Right about now you're probably rolling your eyes and thinking, "what in the world does that mean?" Well, hang in there and let me explain what I mean. My life, so far, is what most would describe as "normal." As I look back I can clearly see God's hand in my life, and I know that when it comes right down to it, I am incredibly blessed.

So what's missing? Why do I worry so much? Why do I ache some days and wonder why I feel so overwhelmed? I've had an on-again-off-again relationship with God my entire life wherein I always loved and acknowledged Him, He just wasn't a priority. Oh sure, I've read the entire Bible. Shoot, thanks to decades of AWANA I had a fair amount of it memorized at one time. Shouldn't I have a mature and fulfilling relationship with God by now? Something is still missing...In 2015 I realized exactly what it was, and I think this says it best:

Oswald Chambers has the unique ability to hit you dead in the face with a right hook and leave you feeling convicted, in awe, and begging for more. If you haven't read My Utmost for His Highest, do so pronto (start here). Chambers showed me that I have been stuck in commonplace religion, refusing to take off my shoes and kneel. The other day, I was reading quietly and God chose that time to team up with good ol' Oswald and hit me with a punch straight to the gullet:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

My first thought immediately after reading that passage was "He's not a consuming fire in MY life." Enter God with the jab: "Well, whose fault is that?" Mine. Entirely mine. And it only took me almost 29 years to figure that out. Despite all my head knowledge, I have refused to let God completely consume my heart.

So, in 2016 I will be endeavoring to escape "commonplace religion," "be thankful, and...worship God acceptably with reverence and awe" so that He can be "a consuming fire" in my life. What does that mean for me? So far it means four things:
  1. I will set my alarm to go off between 5-6am when I know the baby will sleep long enough for me to spend some quality time with God. I'm NOT an early riser, so the selfish part of me wants to scream "that should be enough, God!" It's not, and I have to silence that selfish little imp every day. On days when that time block may not be available/possible, I need to make it a priority to carve out time whenever I can. If it comes to it, God doesn't mind hanging out in a bathroom setting...
  2. I have to actively seek out devotionals that will speak God's truth into my life. In past years I've tried to read through the Bible and have been lackadaisical about finding material to augment that. No more! I know now that reading through the Bible in chronological or written order doesn't work for me, at least not at this point in my life. I need more meat! I'm starting out strong with Beth Moore's Praying God's WordI'm also reading her newest book, Audacious, although that one is just for fun because I love her spirit. 
  3. I must be intentional about my prayer life. I'll be honest - at 5am I'm often lucky just to stay awake long enough to say "good morning, God." I will be praying scriptures as well as keeping track of my specific prayer requests. At the end of 2016, I want to be able to look back and see how God spoke in and through my life by answering my prayers.
  4. I will continue to seek fellowship through my women's study group, as well as our couples study group. Both have already enriched my life so much; I know God will continue to use those wonderful people to help me grow in my walk with Him.  

This is not necessarily an all-inclusive list. It may change throughout the year, I may add to it or find that I need to make changes. That's okay. The key here is that I am being intentional about eschewing commonplace religion, seeking God, and allowing Him to be THE consuming fire in my life. 

How about you? Do you have any books you'd recommend? Or do you need any recommendations? I hope God blesses each and every one of you in new and amazing ways in 2016! I'll go over my other goals in the next few posts. Until then...

UPDATE: I couldn't post this yesterday due to a technical glitch, and this morning I couldn't find my Kindle to do my quiet time. As strange as it sounds, those two things are linked and I know why. I know you probably feel like you're reading the
War and Peace of blog posts by now, but hear me out. 

I read Audacious in place of my normal study, and that was when God threw the final punch for the spiritual K.O. (and with that, my boxing metaphor is worn out). In the third chapter, Moore is talking about the story in which Jesus asked Peter three times "do you love me?" (John 21:15-17) Here's the part that applies to me:

...the most fabulous thing that could happen for some of to come to the shocking, wide-eyed realization that, truth be told, our answer would be no...At least then we could get on with it and open ourselves to the real thing. But, as it is, we just keep going on and on with this gnawing sense in our soul that something is missing but, because we assumed that what we felt was love, it slips through our fingers like a palm-full of parched sand. We know this whole following-Jesus-thing is not turning out as soul-riveting as we were promised but we certainly don't feel like we can divulge our disappointment to anyone...Is that all there is to it? No...Following Jesus is meant to be driven and drawn by love. Audacious love...The love Jesus longs for is not just devotion. It's also emotion...And not just for Christ's sake but also for ours. Love is the catalyst...The person you are when you love Jesus with everything in you - with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength - is the real you.
Beth Moore, Audacious (emphasis mine)

I think that wraps it up nicely. Now to apply it...(and now I really am done)

Hapless but hopeful,

No comments:

Post a Comment