Walking into a New Year

walk2016 is gone, a closed book, and if my facebook feed is any indication, then most people are saying a hearty “good riddance!” to the old year. I don’t know if I feel the same vindictive anger toward 2016– I mean, what’s the point of being mad at a year? One revolution around the sun? A calendar? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. There is a fresh optimism about a new calendar, 365 bright empty boxes waiting to be filled with reminders and appointments and date nights and birthdays. All those little boxes– like little presents all lined up in neat rows and columns– holding gifts from my Maker. Gifts from my Father who loves me, who gives good gifts.

It is time for me to move forward.

I have experienced many times of waiting in my life where I didn’t know what the next step was, where to go, what to do. Those times are confusing and difficult. They can be paralyzing to our faith. But you know what? Right now is not one of those times. Because my year of opening revealed to me something about myself that I don’t like very much: Most days I know exactly what God wants me to do with my time and energy; I just choose not to do it.

I choose to pursue worthless things, like beating my high score on a computer game.

I choose to pursue selfish things, like curling up with a book instead of spending time with my family.

I choose to pursue the easy, the fleshly, the ego-boosting.

I see the path in front of me, clearly marked with a big sign that says GO THIS WAY, with big arrows and maybe even a guy with a bullhorn yelling “HEY YOU! ERIN! THIS IS YOUR ROAD!” and I ignore it all and wander off into a friendly-looking meadow or an easier-looking path. Or maybe I just sit down and refuse to move, like a two-year-old in the cookie aisle at the Walmart.

It’s a good thing God’s not like me, because if my child behaved like I do I would have run out of patience and tender mercies and all of that a really long time ago. Oh, the riches of His grace!

I have been pretty aware over the last couple months of the direction my word for 2017 was going to take. Path, maybe, or road or way. As in– you know the way, so let’s do this thing.

Then yesterday morning my favorite preacher spoke out of 2 Thessalonians 3 on the importance of just doing the work. God calls us, and we need to not make excuses or find other things to keep us busy. We need to obey, plain and simple. After church I kept telling my kids and my husband to do the work! which I think made poor Art wish he had never preached on that particular subject. But that got me thinking that maybe I needed a more active word for my word of the year. Because the whole point is, in my way of thinking, that the sacrifice of 2015 and the opening of 2016 have led naturally into the doing of 2017. But I still want to hold onto the idea of a road or path.

So 2017’s word for me is walk. Nothing fancy. No journey or quest. I don’t presume to run or sprint or even hike or climb. I just want to walk. I want to do the work. I want to daily put one foot in front of the other, in the footsteps of Jesus, wherever they lead me. I want to faithfully follow Him, regardless of how I feel or how life is going or whether the road looks easy or hard. I want to take the lessons of sacrifice and of staying open to His leading that He has taught me, and I want to go.

It’s been amazing in the last few days. As I make my regular round of the book of Psalms in my personal prayer time, I came again to Psalm 119 just a few days before the new year began. And look how it begins:

Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!

This is what I want to do– to be holy, to walk according to God’s commands, to seek Him wholeheartedly, to walk in His ways and not my own. And when I stumble, I want to get back up and take another step. And when I wander off the path, I want to turn around and walk toward Jesus again. There is nothing better for me.

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.

The way of faithfulness– with God’s standards for my life as my guideposts, as the light to my path.

Happy New Year. It’s time to walk.

What about you? Do you have a word or phrase or theme verse for 2017? I’d love to read about it in the comments! 🙂

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