A few years ago, my mom challenged me to come up with a word for the year, something that I wanted to invite God to do in my life as I considered what might happen in the coming year. Some of my words from past years have included: Spirit, dependance, and presence (which was my word last year as I anticipated Hosanna’s arrival and my life being turned on its head, courtesy of my newborn).
This year, I’ve been a bit nervous about my word. As if by saying it, I am inviting opportunities to need it. But maybe I am. My word is surrender.
As I anticipate the critical training time now that Hosanna has learned how to crawl (and will soon be communicating more), as I hope to get my novel to a place of sending it to publishers, as I continue to ask God to send people into my home who need to hear or be reminded of gospel truths, it is scary.
I’ve always found safety in the familiar, especially when I’m the one creating the schedule for everyone else to stick to. But God, in His grace, keeps bringing these living, breathing, factors into my life to open my eyes to the pride of wanting to do exactly what I want, when I want. When I’ve tried to make others see that my perceptions and solutions are the best, without considering their own desires, the only thing I’ve gained is a deeper sense of discontent.
Listening to My Heart?
When I see anything that sways from my intentions as annoying interruptions, (like my son vomiting on the carpet or the “accidents” that make me keep my vinegar spray bottle handy), my heart is really believing that God doesn’t know what He is doing and can’t possibly work it together for my good. Better to suck it up and hope the next day is closer to my plans.
But what if my plans get completely thrown out the window?
What if my brothers sold me into slavery because they were jealous of me? And even when I tried to respond to a situation in a righteous way, it led to me being falsely accused and put in prison?
What if I was told to leave my home and believe promises that wouldn’t be fully fulfilled until after I’d died?
What if I was sent to a place where I took on the neediness of a baby, grew up to be consistently rejected or misunderstood by those I was trying to reach, and spent the night before my execution asking the Father if there was any way His plan could be fulfilled in a different way?
What if by laying aside my plans done in my way, all the little times I “shared in His sufferings” pointed directly to Him?
I recently read through Joseph’s story in the book of Genesis and was surprised by how this righteous man’s life pointed to Jesus in so many little details.
Both lives were exchanged for silver.
Both were betrayed by people close to them.
Both were falsely accused when they had acted righteously.
Both were thrown into a pit. (Joseph was tossed in by his brothers, and then the jail Potiphar sent him to was referred to as the pit. Jesus tasted the pit of Hell’s punishment for us when He died on the cross.)
Both caused people to give glory to God in response to their actions, and gave God glory for their abilities.
Both were raised to a high position and became a channel of blessing to the nations. (Joseph advised Pharaoh and provided food during the famine. Jesus, through His resurrection and being raised to glory, offers His righteousness to us so that we might be forgiven and raised to the glory of our eternal home with Him.)
Both submitted to the Father’s will in forgiving and welcoming those who had done them wrong, (Joseph told his brothers that what they had intended for evil, God used for good. Jesus brought forgiveness to us, while we were still sinners.)
Both had to look forward to a future inheritance. (Joseph only had Jacob’s blessing and his affirmation of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and himself. Jesus conquered death through the cross, but waits to receive the full number of His inheritance (us!) even as He prepares to come again and usher in life on the New Earth.)
It’s only through God’s Word that we can grasp the Big Story of His plan of redemption for the world and see His steadfast love at work, even when we are sinned against, and especially when we sin.
May the Spirit help us to trust the Divine Author who is fitting together all the pieces of His redemption story. We are a part of His story, and every happy ending to every book is a mere reflection of what it will be like to enter into the happiest eternity of fellowship with God.
Opening our Eyes
But how can we actually see God’s Sovereign, Loving, Good hand at work every time our nose starts to run? (Or feel the dread of getting sick when other family members get it first.)
Every time our toddler finds something else to dump out (or hide)?
Every time our baby starts working on a new tooth?
Every time our preschooler comes up with another question to ask (or keeps re-asking a question when he is not satisfied with the answer given)?
Every time our children refuse to pray, refuse to thank someone for a gift, or choose to value a toy over the value of their sibling?
Maybe, as we sweep Play-doh crumbs off the floor, we feel more like we’re stuck in a pit than experiencing the joy of being raised with Christ.
Maybe the routine of sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away laundry feels like a never-ending circle of responsibility.
What if we asked God to open our eyes to the bigger story, to how it points forward to what God is going to do in the future? Or how it can remind us of what Jesus has already done?
What if we could see each load of shirts bringing us one cycle closer to the moment when we will lose our earthly clothes and be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness?
What if each meal planned, prepared, eaten, and cleaned up, gave us a hint of how much better it will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb, when it’s not really the food that satisfies us but is only an accompaniment to our enjoyment of the One who satisfies us completely?
What if we saw each training opportunity as a way to reflect what God wants to do in our lives–teaching us His ways, disciplining us when necessary, and allowing us to take part in the fruit of righteousness, blessing, and joy that comes from living in obedience.
What if each failed attempt to reach the potty in time, each attempt to pull-up on the couch without falling, and each baby cry that refused to be comforted, pointed us to hope in the God who is walking with us, all the way to our final home, when we finally “get it?”
Spirit, would you open our eyes to see what You are doing and trust your loving Hand with the rest?
If you’d like to share your word for the year, I’d love to pray it with you.