learning to be

This is the time of year for reflection. We look back at what we were and look forward to what we want to be. We face our regrets, celebrate our victories, and set new goals for the future.  

Last year was the first time I jumped on the One Word 365 bandwagon. I chose “pursue.”

One Word 2013: Pursue

 

2013 was supposed to be the year I did all these things I wanted to do, but yet tended to procrastinate or avoid.

 

In many ways, I caught the vision of what having one word can do for you. Many times when I was tempted to sit back on my heels, my word would rise up in my heart and push me forward. I am grateful for its influence.

 

And yet, there is still so much I didn’t do. It’s difficult for me to look back on my initial post, and compare it to the year. I wish I had achieved more. I can rationally understand how things I couldn’t have anticipated in the beginning of the year affected my schedule and my priorities. I know that I am a limited human being, and pursuing some things means saying no to other things.

 

And yet, in my heart and soul, I feel disappointed.

 

Which leads perfectly into my word for this year.

 

Be.

 

In the last several months, I have realized how difficult it is for me to accept myself as I am. I am my own worst critic. I consistently see all the ways I could improve.

 

be- oneword365

 

Even this little logo I made. I wanted to do something simple, to highlight just the word: be. Yet I kept tweaking and nudging and working on this “simple” graphic way beyond the time I had set aside for it. I even created more than one version before coming back to the original.

 

I need to learn to let things be. To accept things and move on and know (not just in my head but in my heart and soul) that my worth is not dependent on how perfect things look or what others think of me.

 

Be.

 

And in other ways, I have realized how much I still have to learn about myself. I am not sure what about me stems from my best-created-self and what stems from my sin and brokenness. I need to learn who I am so I can be that person.

 

Be.

 

And as I go through this journey, I long to feel, not just know, but feel, that I am be-loved. Right now. I don’t have to pursue more, or look better, or do something as good as that person I admire. I can be myself and I will be loved.

 

Be.

 

This will be a very different journey than 2013. And like 2013, there are probably some things coming my way that I am not anticipating. But that becomes a part of this too, doesn’t it? Whether this word goes the way I expect it to or not, I can be me and I can be okay.

 

How about you? What word would you choose for 2014?

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Does anyone like advice?

The need for us to have advisers is a message scattered throughout the book of Proverbs.  

One such verse is Proverbs 15:22,

Plans fail for lack of counsel,     but with many advisers they succeed.

seek adviceIt's something we intuitively know to be true: we are more likely to make wise decisions if we seek counsel. Our lives are better off with advisers in them.

 

So, if we know it to be true, the question is, why don't we live it to be true?

 

I think the problem is not usually lack of qualified candidates to counsel us. The problem is usually that we don't want advice.

 

Because really, who really likes to receive advice?

 

This past Sunday, I spoke about being the kind of people who welcome and seek advice with our lives. In my opinion, it requires us to be vulnerable, be humble, be pursuers, and be learners.

 

Take a listen if you are interested. Follow this link, and click on the message titled "advisers."

 

What do you think? How do you handle advice?

the pursuit that matters most

psalm 54It is said in the Scriptures that David is a “man after God’s own heart.” What does that mean when it describes a man who messed up in so many ways during his life?  

Many people have theories. But the longer I have read the Psalms, so many of which were penned by him, the more convinced I am of why we could use those words to describe David.

 

David pursued God. He seemed to be, quite literally, after (pursuing) God’s heart.

 

When he faced a giant, he prayed for God’s strength. When he faced enemies, he prayed for God’s deliverance. When he faced his sin, he prayed for God’s forgiveness. When he faced his blessings, he prayed thanks for God’s faithfulness.

 

Over, and over, and over again, no matter the circumstances, David pursued God.

 

And what a reflection this is of God, who, no matter the circumstances, pursues us.

 

We seem to be fond of creating barriers between ourselves and God. We assume our sin is too much, and so we don’t want to get into the presence of a holy God before we get it under control. We absorb the messages we hear over and over again that we are “less than” and not good enough, and so we figure God must feel that way too, and we stay out of his way. We are distracted by lists and entertainment and obligations, and before we know it, all our time is spoken for, and there is none left for us to be still, and listen, and seek the presence of our God.

 

David lived without a barrier.

 

In Psalm 54, when he faces an enemy, he prays for God to save him,

 

Save me, O God, by your name;     vindicate me by your might. Hear my prayer, O God;     listen to the words of my mouth. – Psalm 54:1-2

 

And he doesn’t try to clean up his feelings about that enemy before coming to God. He prays his honest thoughts. He hopes for God’s vindication, and leaves the matter in God’s hands.

 

And, then, while still in the midst of the difficult circumstances, David commits,

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;     I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.  You have delivered me from all my troubles,     and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes. – Psalm 54:6-7

 

The freewill offering is a core expression of David’s faith. He is confident that nothing on this earth, trouble or enemies or the like, could keep him from participating in the practice. Nothing will keep David from pursuing the presence of God.

 

I went running yesterday. The first time in a long time. A very long time. It was slow and frustrating, but I showed up. I got out of bed, and I did it. I set aside time to pursue something that was important to me.

 

And as I ran (or maybe sauntered would be a better description), I thought about what it looks like to pursue God. To show up in His presence, over and over again. No matter our circumstances, no matter how pained or awkward or frustrated we feel, to do it. To pursue God as David did.

 

The sun was shining in the golden light of early morning. As I ran towards it, my headphones rang out with the anthem I needed. My heart sang along as my legs moved forward in rhythm.

 

“Light, Glorious Light I will go where You shine. Break the dawn, crack the skies Make the way bright before me. In Your light I will find All I need, all I need is You.”

- All Sons & Daughters

 

This is the pursuit that matters most.

 

This is my reflection on Psalm 54. Up next week: A guest post from the amazing Steve Wiens on Psalm 55.