One chilly winter morning during college, my slightly dramatic single friend Wendy approached me with a sheepish grin: “Last night I snuggled up in front of a cozy fireplace with a tall … dark … and handsome (gulp?) ……….. mug of hot chocolate!”
My guess is that right now some my single friends are dreaming of someone to snuggle with in front of a fire, and a few married friends are longing for their husbands to take time to build a cozy fire, without being asked, inviting them to share some hot cocoa with them (minus the children). To clarify misleading lies touting unending bliss – being married, even to a growing Christian, is a huge challenge (ask my husband!). But, there are some parts which are quite lovely.
To Resolve or Not Resolve?
When asked at a New Year’s Eve party, one of our friends declared that in 2012 he was resolved to get a second home in Tahiti. With an equally vivid imagination, I eagerly inquired, “Will it be all right if we visit you?” Terrific! I already had my dream vacation planned for the year. As January 1, 2012 approached, I had to deal with the serious business of whether or not I should make a resolution for myself. My first choice: “I resolve to eat chocolate every day of 2012.” Yes! That is one I can keep. It might be tough, but I was willing to take the risk.
Then I thought, maybe I should pray about this. I don’t mean to become “holier-than-thou” on you. But, if I am going to commit to something, on the first day of the year or any day, I’d better ask my Leader, God Himself, for His opinion on the matter. Actually, God’s Word has instruction we need to consider regarding making promises and vows (see Deuteronomy 23:21 and James 5:12). God takes our words seriously. So should we.
A couple weeks ago I was challenged by the article “My Spiritual Vocabulary” by Debbie Macomber (Guideposts, January 2012). Online her article goes by a different title, “Choosing Words to Live By,” as adapted from her book One Perfect Word: http://www.guideposts.org/stories-of-faith/choosing-words-to-live-by
Quoting Debbie, “Each year I choose one word to focus on and live by. These words have comforted me, challenged me and brought me closer to God. They have changed me.” A fascinating prospect. Some of her words have been: hunger, trust, brokenness, prayer, and hope. A year seemed like a long time to focus on one word, so I contemplated having a word for every month. It would not be a resolution exactly – more like a helpful tool to make my daily schedule more interesting, more focused.
In December, Ama (our Ghanian exchange student daughter) and I talked about how we want to grow spiritually in 2012. We shared areas we need to work on – or rather depend upon God to help us change. Then came the idea … Ama’s favorite store-bought cookies are Oreos, so I used that treat to help us remember the essentials of spiritual growth:
O – Off/On (put off the fleshly choices, put on the Spirit of God and abiding fruit)
R – Rely on God
E – Encourage Each Other
O – Overview (accountability)
Ama was delighted! We’ve had fun encouraging and challenging each other daily, “So, how is O.R.E.O. going for you today?”
Thus my word for January was born: OFF (the first “O” in “O.R.E.O.”). I’m afraid Tim thought I was OFF my rocker when I told him about it. But, as soon as I explained, he seemed to appreciate the plan. Next month it’s going to be ON, then RELY, and maybe for April – June I’ll go with GOD, ENCOURAGE and OTHERS.
Adding this creative element to my life has been refreshing and powerful. Having the word OFF on my mind daily has helped me when I’ve wanted to eat too much, found selfish motives taking over, or noticed pride creeping in. It’s also benefited my Bible study, journaling, and prayer time. In Luke 5 Jesus told Simon Peter to put OFF human perceptions, directing him to re-attempt fishing after a night of failure. When the men returned with two boats ready to sink due to the colossal intake of fish, they realized Jesus was no mere man. Simon calls Him “Lord,” leaving OFF everything to follow Him in pursuit of a new line of work – fishing for men.
God is helping me put OFF some physical and spiritual weights…
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …” Hebrews 12:1-2a
God is teaching me to put OFF my fears…
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37
I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I don’t trust myself to keep them perfectly, and for me I think it would be more of a burden than a blessing. It is, however, my commitment to do my best to keep trusting and obeying the awesome God of my salvation. My choice to follow Jesus was the most important decision of my life, and it continues on into 2012. His grace makes it all possible!
Enough about me … how about you? Have you made any resolutions? God can help you keep them. Do you need to find a creative idea to refresh your spiritual growth? I’m praying that your 2012 is getting off to a great start. Now, if you will please excuse me, I need to sign off and go find some chocolate.