We’re over halfway through the first month of the year! Ah, where did the holidays go? I caught myself writing 2014 on a few notes the other day, completely forgetting it is now 2015! Resolutions were made by many…and many of those resolutions have already been broken, to be sure. New goals, new hopes and dreams. It is good for us in our human state of affairs to set out on new roads, to work toward our aspirations, and live with intention. I’ll be the first to admit- I’m a list maker, a goal-setter, and a dream-builder. Most of the time, only a fraction of my list gets crossed off, and only a portion of the goals are actually accomplished…and sometimes frustration sets in with failures, setbacks, or lost time. This has been a season of waiting for me…7 months now since I first found out about the tumor in my brain…and in that waiting time, so many of my desires for the past year were dashed, due to the scheduling and re-scheduling of surgery, and the time spent on a medical situation I never imagined would be a part of my year. It wasn’t in my neatly laid-out plan, and it surely was not on one of my “to do” lists to battle a brain tumor! But even with hopes deferred, concerts cancelled, and the loss of my independence (no longer being able to drive), God has in the midst of it all poured out blessings beyond measure and surprises far beyond expectation. He is exceedingly and abundantly good. Maybe, just maybe, life isn’t so much about “doing,” but is rather more about “being.” I am learning (stubbornly so) to first and foremost be, and secondly to do.
I was on a skype call with my longtime friend and sister-in-Christ in Germany the other day, and we were wrestling with these thoughts. These ideas weigh down so much pressure on our lives- to succeed, to perform well, to be strong, independent and accomplished, and meanwhile to maintain healthy, lasting relationships. Young and old alike, we all struggle with the idea of identity- who we are and what makes us so. It is tempting for me to find my identity in music, in making a name for myself, in “having it all together.” The first thing someone usually asks when you meet them is, “What do you do?” Usually that translates into- What do you to for a living? What do you do to earn money? What do you do that is distinct and separates you from the crowd? What do you do for a hobby that is unique? We all have down pat some usual response, trying to sound like our lives are worthy and important. I’m a singer. I’m a blogger. I write songs and play piano. I like to run and read. Go ahead- say what you normally say to describe yourself, your life, your many things you do…
As nice as it all is, this is not who we are. If we let what we do define ourselves, we will always feel let down, burnt out, and unfulfilled. Because as great as those things are- our jobs, our businesses, our ministries, our hobbies, our dos and dos and dos…they do not explain the scope of who we are.
You and I are children of the Living God.
You and I are created in His likeness and image.
You and I are loved deeply and extravagantly.
You and I are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
You and I are caught up in a wind of grace that carries us in the storm of our weaknesses and failures.
You and I are made new when we receive the gift of God, that is eternal life in Jesus.
You and I are immortal beings who will live forever, with an eternal destiny.
You and I are bought with a price.
You and I are ransomed.
In John 15:4-5, Jesus speaks with love to His disciples:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Did you catch those strong words of affection and admonition? “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”
It is first that we abide. It is second that we bear fruit.
It is first that we be. It is second that we do.
Maybe my resolution this year is solely to abide. To put aside all my grand expectations of myself and the world and my part in this world…and to abide first in Jesus and His Word, then, to find the creativity, the strength, and the imagination from Him to go out into the world and do. Before writing another song, calling another friend, scheduling another medical appointment…maybe it is time for me to breathe in His presence and just abide.
God speaks so clearly through the prophet Isaiah:
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near…’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,‘ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing…” (Isaiah 55:6-12)
Clearly, the Lord’s purpose will prevail. His grand plan for 2015 will be in place, whether we are ready or not…and we might be surprised at the things He takes off our “to do” list and those unexpected events with which He replaces them! I am reminded that my thoughts, as high and lofty as they seem some days to me, are nowhere near the vast and incredible thoughts of Almighty God. His Word when soaked into our souls will never return void, but accomplish the very purpose for which He intended it in our lives. And as we lay down our “daily dos” in exchange for moment-by-moment “time-to-be”…we “shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace.” Maybe even another new song will break forth…who knows?