Yesterday, I shared with you how I love the fall season, but what I most look forward to with fall is allowing the Lord to lead me on a journey of reflecting and preparing. Fall is when I like to take stock of the past year and prepare for the next, by asking God to confirm what spiritual focus He has for me in the coming year.
The year began with this journal entry:
[box]So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16–18)[/box]
This passage was the foundation for my spiritual focus for 2016. Almost every day (and many times throughout the day), I’ve challenged myself (and friends) to look to the unseen, the eternal, rather than staying fixated on what we can see. I’ve been pressed, at times, to step into that area of faith that involves mystery: where I trust God’s character and know that He is good and all powerful—even when witnessing horrific events.
The word (and action) that has stayed on my heart throughout the year has been: surrender. This was to be the year of the yielded heart, surrendering all to Him. Living the “Not my will, but Yours” life—moment by moment.
In one sense, I’ve already done that. I yielded myself as a child to follow Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I yield to Him daily, asking for His will to be accomplished in my life. I sing “I Surrender All” and lift my hands signifying—all I have is His.
But Has my will completely yielded all I most hold dear?
Can I say with the Apostle Paul that: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”?
I asked myself these questions at the start of 2016:
Am I truly surrendered at the outset of this year to every painful lesson He will teach me, all the sorrows that will be inscribed on these fresh journal pages, and each tear that will fall—is my heart in the position of surrendering it all to Him? Now, before I know what He is asking me to give up? To yield?
Do I have a settled understanding that all I hold dear here is only transient . . . just like the closing of the cover on last year’s journal?
Read again the first sentence of my Scripture passage for this year: “So we do not lose heart.” This is the key to not losing heart—surrendering my heart to His plans. Knowing that whatever affliction this year may hold, it is temporary. The affliction is temporary, but the eternal weight of glory that is formed through that affliction is eternal. Eternal.
And is eternal glory not worth more than all the temporary affliction?
In knowing His character, there is joy in the surrender. His character is good and merciful. His mode of operation is redemption!
Further down on the journal page of January 1, I inscribed this statement that God gave me back in October, 2015: If I truly desire God’s glory, I will embrace every affliction God appoints for me.
He brings afflictions and He brings abundant goodness. In all of it, He is working out a beautiful plan—an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
[box]Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Ps. 31:19)[/box]
As I sit comfortably in my home today, and reflect over the past ten months, I’m keenly aware that I’ve not suffered under the hand of affliction this year. I’ve not experienced the sorrows that many of my friends did last year. I did not surrender a child to death. My husband did not choose to have an affair. I did not succumb to a terminal illness. Although friends suffered these things and worse, my daily “surrenders” did not require the depth of their yielding.
Don’t misunderstand me, this hasn’t been an easy year. We’ve experienced pressures we’ve never known before, we’re walking in unknown territory right now with some health issues, and there are several questions for us about the future. But we’ve been blessed and the difficulties have not come alone, they’ve come with enough grace to walk through them.
Maybe you’ve experienced a year of blessing—did that result in a more yielded and surrendered heart?
I’m honestly grappling with this question today: Is my heart more yielded today than it was at the beginning of the year?
How did you enter 2016?
What did you ask God to do in your life this year?
How have you experienced Him at work?
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