As I sit down to write on this New Year’s Day, I think about how I would normally be spending my time writing something quite different. Usually on a day like today, it would be a journal. Or a list. Or a brainstorm on a white sheet of printer paper. I would be reflecting on last year, analyzing what was good and what could have been better, and setting strategic resolutions for this next year. But strangely enough, and quite contrary to my nature, I don’t feel like I need to do that this morning.
Instead, I look at my hand and wiggle my middle finger and feel the unfamiliar sliding of a new ring, one that I got for Christmas, one that signifies why I‘m not doing resolutions this year like I normally would.
Don’t worry, I’ve still thought about all the things I’m thankful for from 2018, and I’ve praised the Lord for them. I’ve looked forward to some things in 2019 and prayed about them. But what I’m not doing is obsessing about analysis and self betterment like I usually do.
Part of it comes from a book I just read called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I’m learning how occupied I can become with perfection, how driven and perhaps even addicted to improvement I can be. The more I get to know God and grace and his unconditional love, the more I read Jesus’ teaching on dwelling in his love and being a branch on a vine (John 15), the more it changes me. I focus less on sanctifying myself and more on resting in his love for me that actually is not impacted by my performance. The more I obey out of love instead of self-induced pressure, duty, or “should-do”. The more joy I have in being in his presence instead of always striving please him, which directly translates tangibly into enjoying being with people instead of trying to always please them.
And as I turn these things over in my heart, I know it’s changing me because I don’t feel like doing numerous resolutions today. I want to live simpler, lighter. So I wear a physical reminder, this new silver ring, and it makes me want to set the trajectory of 2019 like an arrow.
It’s a good thing that arrows are trendy right now, because I love them. So my mom got me a ring that looks like a little silver arrow wrapped around my finger. My sister cross-stitched me an arrow, which is probably my favorite gift I received. I recently bought a bracelet with an arrow on it, too. If I ever get a tattoo, it will probably be an arrow, except that it’s just a little too trendy right now. And to me, arrows aren’t a trend. To me an arrow means something more.
So I twist the lovely little silver arrow around and around my middle finger on my left hand, and it means more to me than a list of ten resolutions.
I heard Louis Giglio speak at the Passion conference about how we are like flaming arrows in the hands of a merciful God. Our lives are lit on fire by his Holy Spirit, and his loving hands place us in his bow. And then he launches our lives out into the world. Wherever we land (which is up to his aim, not ours), we light that corner of the world on fire for him. What a clip here.
But it’s not just a Louis Giglio idea. Isaiah 49:2 also compares us to God’s polished arrows. When I think about the trajectory and motion of my life, I really just want to be an arrow pointed in one direction. Towards God. And then I want to be sent out by him to carry his light and fire to wherever I land.
This is more valuable and more transformative to me in this season than a well thought out plan of how to exercise more, eat better, make friends, make a difference, and other checklist items of things to do to have a better relationship with God. Not that having organized goals are bad, but they will all be broken by January 12 if they aren’t rooted in something more. A deeper meaningful life trajectory. A directional arrow.
I’ve picked one verse and one resolution for 2019, and I picture it like an arrow pointing in one direction.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord. His going out is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.
Not very much is as sure as the dawn in 2019, especially not our plans and resolutions. But what is absolutely sure and certain as the sun coming over the horizon is this: God will show up when you seek him, when you press on to know him. And as sure as the spring rains make green stalks push out of hard ground, his presence will water us and freshen us up. In 2019, his presence only will give us life, grow us, and produce good fruit in us that will satisfy the hunger of a world around us.
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