What Do You Want for the New Year?
If you had one thing that you could ask of God for 2018 what would it be? Maybe this thing seems so far off that it would require an actual miracle so you never ask. It’s too much to even hope for.
It’s Time to Start Believing in Miracles
During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many ‘too much to even hope for’ requests. One that caught my eye this morning was in Matthew 20:29-34. As Jesus walked, a great crowd followed him, but two blind men were sitting by the roadside and heard Jesus passing by. They began to cry out to Jesus. The crowds rebuked them for it. But they cried out even louder. Jesus stopped and called out to them, asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”
I believe Jesus hears our cries and is asking us this very question, but instead of believing that Jesus wants to do miraculous things in our life, as he did for the blind men when he restored their sight, to quote Beth Moore, we act like apologetic beggars panhandling a cautious God with tight pockets. We adorn the posture of a dog, begging for the scraps that fall from the table.
1 John 5:14-15 says, “Now this is the confidence we have before him: Whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked him for.”
Fear is a Commonality for 2017
Like myself, we may currently find ourselves in a place where we have zero ideas of what God’s will is for our lives or maybe even for this day and we’re praying fervently that we would know it, that a direction would be revealed, and an answer would surface. In these times, it can be difficult to pray with confidence, to pray with a victory outcome. We pray instead with a desperation that isn’t coming from a place of peace or promise, but one of fear and anxiety.
As 2017 comes to a close, out of the many prayers I’ve prayed this past year the one that continued to surface over and over was, “Lord, remove this fear.”
When I saw the verse of the year that my bible app said was the verse most highlighted, bookmarked, and shared by the global YouVersion community during 2017, I felt maybe I wasn’t alone in this prayer.
“This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you whereever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Is Love Fear’s Antidote?
As I continued to pray for no fear throughout the year, another verse continued to replay itself over and over in my mind. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
What did Christ say was the greatest of all of his commandments? Wasn’t it to love him with all of our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves? (Matthew 22:36-40) If we’re struggling with having confidence in prayer and with knowing God’s will for our lives, herein lies the perfect prayer to pray.
Love just might encompass and embody the answer to all of our other needs. It just might be the root that grows the harvest of fruit that we’re longing for in our lives.
What Is Love?
When we love something, we are willing to risk all for it. We invest in it. We pursue it. We cherish it. We feel deeply for it. We sacrifice for it. We’re passionate about it.
“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more, that plants the fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” – The Notebook
The bible talks more about the do’s and don’ts of love in the oft-quoted, 1 Corinthians 13 passage.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
If that doesn’t sum up the qualities I could hope for in life, I’m not sure what else does; patience, kindness, rejoicing, forbearance, faith, hope, endurance. However, in all of my continual prayers for courage and fearlessness, I sit here at the end of a difficult year and feel, to be honest, pretty loveless.
When We Don’t Love
In its place, I often find resentments and a whole lot of emptiness that often fills with unresolved anger and disappointments. These I continue to try to squelch with good behavior and forced smiles. But as the day’s annoyances and hardships accumulate, so does my inability to hide that which is in my heart as I start to snap with biting words, cold shoulders, frustrated sighs, and vented rants to friends.
“…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
As I look within I’m tempted to despair. But that’s the very thing the enemy of our souls wants us to do. We’re all damaged, broken, and very human, with a flesh bent on destruction. But God says that there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) He isn’t looking down on our loveless hearts with anger and contempt. Instead of a posture like beggars, God invites us to come boldly to his throne in our time of need and there we will find mercy and grace. (Hebrews 4:16)
The Answer to What We All Want for 2018
When we think of the blind men that cried out to Jesus, believing in him for their sight, we can also cry out to Jesus for love and his answer is ALWAYS YES.
I believe seeking a vibrant and passionate love for Jesus is the answer to the question we are always asking that may arrive in different forms, but is always, how can I be filled; filled with contentment, filled with joy, filled with life, filled with hope, filled with purpose; filled and never empty. A life of audacity, of verve, of energy, and of excitement.
“What if, instead, we threw caution to the wind, took Him at His word, and fully engaged in a wide-open, chain-breaking, story-making connection?
Then everything would come alive.
Because He is life, and what He invades, He infuses, What He permeates, He activates.”
– Beth Moore, Audacious
Getting Personal: My 2017 Recap
To wrap up and recap, 2017 has been a year of stress and anxiety, grief and loss, a year of a thousand deaths and nonstop transition. But even more so, it has been a year of a thousand resurrections in the form of new beginnings, of hope, and of newfound grace and mercy bringing growth and healing along with it.
It’s a year that’s opened new eyes to see and ears to hear the wonderful way God has orchestrated the broken pieces into a beautiful symphony of cadenzas to lift other souls around me. I feel a new flesh heart emerging from the stone heart, one that is more willing to forgive and eager to seek all of the wonder, the miracles, and the excitement that is found in a life that’s surrendered to Him.
Our Ultimate Answer to Fearing Less & Loving More
For 2018, I look to a new word. A word that is the embodiment of love, one that has power and one that conquers all fear. In this word, there is life and life more abundantly, and this word, is not only a word, but a name, and His name is Jesus. My prayer is that as we look around at our world, our big, beautiful, but hurting world, that we will find our answers in the Name above all Names. And in Him we will find more love, the perfect Love that casts out all fear.
“Let us run with endurace the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising it’s shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2