I love goals. I love planners. I love planning. The start of a new year with a fresh calendar gives me all the feels of a little girl approaching their first day of school with a Lisa Frank binder in hand.
It’s a sweet time to pray over and dedicate, evaluate what went well last year and what didn’t. Most of all to hear what the Lord has to say about the coming year - what to expect, where we can grow, what to hope for and pray into.
So, coming from the gal the lover of all things big and goaly, Want to know my goals for this year?
-Go to bed at 9:30.
-Get up no later than 6am.
-Take my vitamins.
-Read five chapters of Scripture a day.
At first I was conflicted between feeling 90-years-old, yet also accomplished. These don’t seem that challenging. Day 1: CHECK. Day 2: CHECKED AGAIN.
However, the narrowed down focus comes largely from a desire for more peace. How can I parent better? peace. How can I delight and enjoy my husband and marriage more? peace. How can I make sure our family is keeping the main thing the main thing? peace. How do I stop striving and start thriving? PEACE.
We’ve all just come out of the glorious winsomeness that Christmas brings, joyously singing the familiar words, “His law is love and his gospel is peace.” Yet the moment Christmas wraps up we are rapidly ushered into days full of toiling and putting our hands, time, talents and treasures towards things that seem to be the antithesis of inviting peace. How do we do we avoid that? How do we usher in peace in a world that is screaming you must DO while it also vying for every bit of our energy and attention?
Matthew 22:37-40 teaches us,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Leading up to one of the most famous questions asked of the Lord, “Which is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus spent much of his time sharing and teaching the disciples through parables and answering questions on what it meant to be followers of Christ. Many of these teachings largely surrounded what it takes, or the sacrifices necessary to “make it.” What does it take with my finances? What about the Resurrection? Who really gets to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? What must I DO? What do I not do? Does this sound familiar as we navigate the new year? The day to day likely looks different than what the disciples were facing of their day and time, being largely dictated by the government and prisesthood - but the striving and desperation can feel similar. We essentially find ourselves often asking and processing, what can I DO to be better? What can I DO to get ahead? What can I DO to make every moment count? Lose the weight? Draw closer to God? Accomplish more? Save more?
However, here we find that Jesus boiled it down to two simple tasks rooted in love. To make it, to keep the main thing the main thing is to love. Whom? Him! To love and pursue Him with everything we’ve got - and then to overwhelm those around is with the same love we’ve invited upon ourselves through Him. And the beautiful gift about pursuing Him is that it always involves a filling up. We call, he answers (Psalm 86:7). We ask, He gives. We seek, we find. We knock, it is He who opens (Matthew 7:7-8). And when we seek and find Him, we find the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is essentially saying to his disciples and to every follower of Jesus after that to calm down. Pursue Him. Choose Love. And you will invite peace!
You will keep him in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4
This year I want to welcome something different - I want 2019 to be marked with peace - the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). In the morning when I rise, I want Jesus: who is peace Himself (Ephesians 2:14). Throughout the day when I am tempted to do more and perform better, let peace rule (Colossians 3:15).
So whether your dreams are big or small in 2019, be encouraged and run hard after him. Go in peace!
Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. -Amy Carmichael