My word(s) for 2021
My words, or really phrase, for the year are ones I have been thinking about for months and I’m still learning to apply them in my day to day life.
Wait well has been a theme I’ve been seeing all throughout the Bible for years. I’m realizing that God works in and through the waiting times. And I really dislike that. I am such an impatient person. And I don’t know if my impatience shows up more in my physical life or my spiritual life. Both, for sure though.
What does waiting well look like?
There’s actually one of many examples of waiting well in the first chapter of Acts. In verses 7 & 8 Jesus promises the disciples the Holy Spirit will come, then He ascended into heaven. The disciples are left waiting. They returned to Jerusalem… and sat down tapping their foot until the Spirit came, right? I mean, that’s what I would do. The promise was made, let’s get going on that God! Show yourself faithful!
Nope, they went back, gathered together with other believers, and devoted themselves to prayer, talking about and reflecting on what He had done, and then got to work on what needed to be done. It’s almost like they forgot they were waiting on the Holy Spirit and just started working on the next thing.
They waited well.
One of the high school students I’m meeting with said for her waiting well (while trying to decide what to do or where to go after graduation) would look like learning to listen to God better, using her time wisely, volunteering at some local ministries, and putting full effort and prayer into the ministry she is currently involved in.
What does waiting well look like for me while waiting for God to open my son’s eyes and grant him repentance? It would be persevering in prayer for him. Asking others to pray with me for him too. It would also mean involving him in our lives as much as he wants, inviting him in, reflecting on what God has done in his life and ours, and continuing praying for him with hope as I wait.
Waiting well in the Bible involves a lot of movement, a lot of life in those waiting hours, a lot of action. It doesn’t seem to involve sitting or impatience. There is no hurrying God along.
“He that believes does not make haste.” -Matthew Henry
And my natural response to learning to wait well is: I need to try harder. But I’ve also discovered that the term “try harder” is not in the Bible.
The idea of trying harder is not part of the Christian life. Jesus often says “come to Him” not “get your act together and try harder.” The idea of coming to Him, taking His yoke, being crucified with Christ, putting off the old self, losing your life, taking up your cross, being dead to sin is written all over in the Bible.
Learning to die to myself and my self-centered desires goes hand in hand with learning to wait well. In fact, this dying to self and following after God flies in the face of the self-care, self-esteem, self-discipline, and self-improvement culture we live in. All of those self things are trying harder to be better. God wants us to come to Him, poor in spirit, realizing there is NOTHING we can do on our own.
He teaches us to cry out for grace, not give ourselves grace.
So how does this look in my life? How about in the biggest struggle with sin I’ve been battling for decades–overeating.
Self-care says “Hey, you’ve had a rough day, things really stunk today. It really doesn’t matter if you have a second helping of that great dinner and top it off with a treat of ice cream and zone out in front of the tv for the rest of the night. You have to take care of yourself because no one else will, and besides how can you pour into others if you are empty? Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace today. You can try harder tomorrow.”
But in Romans 12:1 we’re told “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
And again in Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
And in 1 Corinthians 9:27:“but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Sacrifices are bloody and require a lot of work. God is calling me to die to Netflix, convenient and delicious food, and zoning out. He wants me to get out the knife and sacrifice my desires of laziness, comfort, envy, and lust. Instead of being conformed to Netflix and indulgence like the world calls me to do (and assures me it is the only way to truly love myself so I can love others), I should be doing something totally opposite, something that transforms me and renews my mind in truth. Sacrifice, death to self, means eating within my boundaries, giving thanks for what I did get to have, and then going beyond, transforming my mind by read my Bible, or playing a game with someone, reach out to someone, pray for someone, clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry, etc.
So those are my words for the year. I’m sure there will be lots and lots of opportunities to learn how they apply to a bunch of different situations. I know these aren’t exactly fun or cool or exciting words, but I’m praying the lessons learned will further conform me to Christ.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below.