Resolutions die hard don’t they? What we’re passionate about one day can be easy to abandon the next when the challenge kicks in.
Goals and pledges and resolutions or whatever you want to call them are not bad. But when I discovered this idea of choosing a word to live by for the year, it made so much sense to me. If you choose a word to live by, it doesn’t mean you can only live by that word, but it’s a word that challenges you and one you keep coming back to throughout the year. One that weaves in and out of all you do during the year. And honestly, it’s a word that will be part of you beyond the year.
Choosing my word for 2017 has come in stages. It started back in October. I wanted to write an update on life, so to speak, as I had done in October both in 2015 on my blog and in 2014 on my IG account. There’s something about a yearly update of the season we’re in that seems significant. There’s something about looking back on your life a year ago and seeing where you’ve come from, lamenting on what hasn’t changed, and celebrating what has. October for whatever reason seems to be my month.
But as I was trying to find time to put the words down, I was struggling. It just wasn’t coming together and I was in a place where I was really making sure I believed for myself what I was writing about. Because really, I don’t want to misrepresent myself by putting words down that I’m not willing to live by.
As the words for the post were forming and as I was reflecting on my word “dare” from 2016 and praying about my new word, things started falling together in my mind. And I realized that the words I was trying to put together was really what I was trying to say about how I want to live. Not just in 2017, but all the time. And so, the combination of all of this was what led me to the word, “pursue.”
Last October, I wrote a little bit about the season we were in. During the time I wrote this, I was struggling with totally surrendering my all to God. It seemed I was willing to go in deep, but only so far. I wasn’t willing to let go if it meant disaster would follow. I wasn’t willing to let the waves crash over me, so to speak. It was as if I only wanted God if it meant I knew that on the other side, we would be okay. That I was waiting for Him to part the waters of our circumstances so we could walk through into the next season. It was an analogy to the Israelites, as it felt (and still does) that we were (and still are) between an Egyptian army and a sea of unparted waters.
Perhaps you too even feel as if you are in a similar spot. While I don’t think it’s a bad analogy and likely one I’ll use in the future, I’ve come to realize something in the past year.
God has already parted the waters. He parted them with the death of His son.
As I was writing my 31 day series this fall, I kept hearing, “the waters have been parted.” I kind of laughed to myself because I was really focused on my view of what this looked like as I mentioned above. But one day as I was praying, I had this picture that came into my mind. I hesitate to call it a “vision” but I guess that’s what some people would call it. I was in the water, struggling, trying to keep my head up, and yet able to see Jesus. I could see Him, hanging on the cross, way at the end of this water. I was trying to get there, but couldn’t. And then suddenly the waters were drawn back and I was walking, easily and freely, to get there. I wasn’t walking into a new place, though, I was walking to Him. And as I got closer, I began to run.
It was in this moment, that the reality of a very simple concept came forth and sealed the deal in my heart. God has already parted the waters. He sent Jesus to die for us. The reality of what I’ve known my entire life took on new meaning. The waters are parted. Because of Him, I have freedom in my circumstances. And yes, there’s this waiting on God and this time of developing trust and relationship in new ways, but that doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is the reason for this. That Jesus. Period. I know it’s easy to say, but no matter what we walk through, there’s Jesus. His death parted the waters of anything we face. We have freedom to keep our eyes on Him and recognize that He’s changing us, but He remains unchanged.
I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I accepted Christ into my heart as a young child. I’ve heard the stories over and over. I’ve known God loves me. And yet somehow, over the years of my life, these realities have become routine. If I’m being honest, my pursuit of God and relationship has always had some kind of strings attached. Yes, I’ve pursued Him, but in my mind I come up with all the ways He could move. All the ways He could do something. I often try to do His job for Him. And worse yet, I often grow complacent. AW Tozer writes, “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”
When I pray, my prayers have been for me or for other people. How many times in the past years have I just sat with my Father? Wanted to be in relationship, just because I love Him and want to know Him more.
There have been some yes, but these times come in memorable moments, not a way I regularly live my life. The most memorable are where I experienced His power and love like when I received the baptism of the Spirit. I’ve fallen to the floor under the weight of God’s glory. I’ve been in some pretty supernatural places where I experienced God like I never have. And every time that happened, I had to go after it. I couldn’t sit back and just hope to know God. I had to pursue Him.
The word pursue has several definitions, one being this:
Sometimes I start with the intention of just wanting to know Him but I fall back into old habits of prayer where I end up asking for something. Distractions come. So. Many. Distractions. It’s hard to find time in the day to be present with Him. My prayer life often occurs in snippets while I’m cleaning up, while I’m showering. I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with the way I pray because continually coming to Him in conversation keeps me in relationship with Him. But I know there’s more.
So this question has plagued me over the past year: what does it look like to pursue God? Just. Pursue. Him. Not lift up my prayers of things I want to see or things I want to do and ask for anything. But to just sit with Him. I feel like I have “known about” God my entire life more than I’ve really “known” Him. In ‘The Furious Longing of God,’ Brennan Manning writes this, “I believe that Christianity happens when men and women experience the reckless, raging confidence that comes from knowing the God of Jesus Christ.”
I ask myself, What does it really look like to pursue Him? To run hard towards Him? To live out the freedom I have in the parted waters where the end result isn’t my dreams being fulfilled or my circumstances better, but where the end result is Him. Just Him. How can I have fruit in my life unless I really know Him. How can I love others unless I really know His love? How can I tell others to live in His freedom unless I really know what that looks like?
So that’s why I’ve chosen the word “pursue” as my word to live by in 2017. Just in writing this post there have been countless distractions, both mentally and physically. I can’t tell you how hard it’s been for me to write all this down, so if my clarity isn’t there, I apologize. I know the battle for this in my life is fierce. But I’m up for the challenge. Because in the end, it means I get to know Him more.
Do you have a word to live by in 2017?
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