Every year I take a short solo weekend somewhere close as a sort of spiritual renewal and to intentionally look at the past year.
I sit now in Astoria reading journal entries from my 2013 solo trip to Seaside. As last year, the weather here is gorgeous — beautiful blue sky, no wind, no precipitation — a delight in January in a city where it rains an average of 67 inches a year.
I’m surprised but not surprised by how many of my prayers were answered…either tangibly or intangibly through work within me. Yet again, it shows me how intimately God is involved with my life.
My prayers for 2013 centered on five areas – spiritual growth, relationships, health, creativity, and wholeness of life.
In terms of spiritual growth, I prayed in 2013 for vision and a sense of purpose when reading God’s word.
In all honesty this has been a struggle as I tried throughout the year to find that sweet spot of intimacy with Jesus. I’m still trying and find if I intentionally, slowly, think deeply about God’s word — my time with him is richer. Racing through the word is a poor substitute and only brings me guilt and condemnation.
Through this though I’ve realized my relationship with him must be continually worked on … much like a tangible relationship.
The self-indulgent side of me wants my relationship with him to be an experience … like that first rush of infatuation that bursts forth when you first fall in love. All heady, exciting and uncontrollable. But then I realize that type of love is false … because infatuation is based on my created fantasy of love that’s based on my own needy desires and false assumptions … which I then superimpose onto the object of my love.
I don’t want to be infatuated with God I want to be in love with him, his way. I find my love and intimacy with God is deeper and sweeter when its worked out through effort and time alone, when its experienced through trials and hardships and when its sweetly realized through answered prayers. Through these, I learn he loves me in ways that are necessary for me. I learn he truly knows me and knows what I truly need. He cuts through all my bullsh*t and exposes me to myself. He changes me. He brings me true peace and joy and courage. He makes me see how brave and strong I can be in him. And he does this through his word and by experiences of his word.
I’ve realized now I don’t want to impose a rigid set of rules around his word because that would impose a rigid set of rules around him. I don’t want to just digest his word as a purpose or duty.
I prayed the wrong prayer.
I want to know God. I want to understand him. I want to think deeply about his word … whether a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter .. because I will get to know him and love him for who he is and fall in real love with him.
A word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter … He speaks to me and I will delight in him, love him and need him.
Another prayer from 2013, “Help me to see where my past giftings are no longer my strength and reveal new and different gifts,” is in progress. I see movement through continuous meditation. These thoughts are never far off.
I had a few instances of rolling into my same habits of service and found what worked once, doesn’t work anymore. So quit trying., he said. Stop spinning your wheels. Rest in the unknown. Rest in unsettledness. Rely on me, he ended. So I have stopped doing what worked before and just wait. And trust. He will show me.
Focus on loving others as a way of forgiveness and healing. We have all been wronged or treated badly … in big and small ways. When I’ve really tried to genuinely love and care for others who have hurt me … while remembering they are broken too … my heart is supernaturally healed and I am able to forgive. I am no longer a slave to hurt and unforgiveness. When I forgive I am free. On my Jesus can do that within me. I can think of more than one instance where this was true for me in 2013.
Be an intentional friend. It is vital we engage intimately in one another’s lives. My job is not to care for myself but for my brother, my sister. I have purpose in their lives. God has placed me there because he wants to use me as an outlet of his love, wisdom and vitality. I am necessary to the wellbeing of another … with that, I must continue reach out to those around me for genuine, committed relationships. To withhold myself means to withhold God’s love from another.
My identity is not in this broken world. I find my issues around abandonment and rejection more and more healed by literally experiencing more abandonment and rejection. Somehow these lose their hold on me as I realize and then insist that they have no real bearing on my new identity established in Christ.. My identity is in my God. Rejection and abandonment have lost their power to the power of the greater One. They are dead. They have no place in my new life.
Walking in the fruits of the Spirit … not in selfishness, envy, pride, impatience and anger. A constant battle with my self-focused will. I win. I lose. I win. I lose. I win. I lose. I win. I lose. I win. I lose. I win. I lose. Incrementally, I see small changes, I win.
I saw doctors so that I wouldn’t be caught unawares about my medical condition! Another prayer answered that I didn’t even realize until I read my 2013 journal.
I may be healthy but I did a lousy job on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and exercising. It was not the focus of my life; it wasn’t a focus at all! My nutrition was mostly healthy but I still battled eating out-of-control when I have slipped off my self-imposed wagon.
I don’t feel strong and capable. I feel weak and incapable. Work for 2014.
I have continued to let technology impose itself on my creativity. I know I have vast quantities of untapped abilities … laying dormant because of aimless channel and internet surfing.. Laziness is also a continuous factor.
I want to find my passion as an artist. I want to create the kind of beauty that I know God can create through me. Let it be so.
WHOLENESS OF LIFE
Intimate moments. Guard these carefully, don’t slip out of your habit of devotion.
See the beauty of God’s creation. — both in nature and by experiencing culture. Experiencing God’s creation brings renewal, hope, joy.
Word as the foundation of my life. Only God’s word can sustain me. It is the foundation of my life and a barometer for how well or not well my life is going … am I in or out of the word. God’s word brings peace and rest.
WHY DID I POST THIS? [ If you’re still reading this ]
Because it’s really about how I lived my life with God the past year and I want to put it all out there. My life as a believer is not perfect but through every little circumstance I am being renewed and restored.
As I look back I see that I both learned and struggled in 2013. But I enter 2014 with joy and encouragement because it seems as if everything experienced this past year has pointed to more hope, more assurance, more courage and more strength. I am continually moving forward, being reshaped by my God, my Father, my Jesus.
Thank you, Holy Spirit, for bringing your vitality and wisdom to my life. I rely on you to help me. With you, all things are possible.