Welcome to 2021, where the political climate stayed positive just about as long as your New Year's Resolution to cut out sugar completely.
These days the warm fuzzies from Christmas have been replaced with warm ongoing indigestion.
I laughed when I went to buy a calendar this year and found that they are going like "hotcakes."
We may not know in the slightest what's coming but hey, at least this year we can look at our calendar on the wall and know how many Tuesdays January has.
A new start is precisely why I choose NOT to read the Bible through each year chronologically. Throw me a Psalm and a Proverb every day and I for suresies don't want to usher in the New Year with one of the seven vials from Revelation.
Please and Thank you.
(Yes, I do know Revelation is important- hugely important - and yes I do have a wonderful Bible reading plan each year. I just choose to have the "blessing" that is promised for reading Revelation a mite earlier in the year.)
In these days where posting, "God is still on the throne," is "not doing enough," and marching in Washington has made you a "supporter of the next Civil War," I'd say digging your nose into your Bible is precisely the best place to be.
By this time I'd say most of us have finally bit the bullet and shelled out money for at least "cute" masks instead of hospital grade ones.
We genuinely aren't afraid of running out of toilet paper, but wonder if we should stay on Facebook.
I hear you.
And I heard the Lord speaking to me while I was on the floor in a full-blown middle of the night panic attack.
Yes those are real things and yes you understand if you've had them.
You're peacefully asleep, you are faithfully in God's Word, meditating on it, living to let Him guide you with His eye and lo and behold it hits your body like a whirlwind waking you from a dead sleep and making you just about as miserable as I can imagine someone could be.
I've learned that this is a usual tactic of the devil in my life.
No harbored sin, no disobedience, and just the way to discourage me.
Late at night, in the dark, all alone.
This has been his tactic for a long time now.
I've grown better at skunking him out- calling him out in what he is trying to do, knowing how to play steady Defence there in the dark, but it's still work.
And as many times as I have wished them away, I know they keep me fully dependent on God's every word. And that's a very good thorn.
And recently during a battle the Lord brought me my word for the year.
Remember doing that? Having a word for the year. Oddly enough, I didn't choose one last year! That is both funny and deeply satisfying.
And so I lay there listening and concentrating on breathing as deep as I could.
The Holy Spirit told me that he wanted my word for the year to be "Fearless."
IMMEDIATELY I wanted to laugh myself silly, but didn't have the air.
When I picture someone "fearless," I picture some lady with huge biceps, and purple mowhawk running into a burning animal shelter to rescue kittens.
Yes, that is literally what I picture- with a side of Mr. T.
Apparently fearlessness and mowhawks go hand in hand.
I lay on the floor in the wee hours of the morning just waiting for the sunlight to come through the window reminding me that I fought and made it through and felt like Sarah laughing at the Lord's promise to do in her what she could not do for herself.
"Lord, I am the LEAST fearless person I know! Here I am, fighting fear on the floor, again and again and possibly again tomorrow. The devil knows how weak I am."
And SO peace-filled the words came, just as the sun broke through clouds, giving me a brand spanking new day.
"What does it mean to be fearful? FULL of fear. Can you be less fearful today than you were yesterday? Can you fear- less and trust me more today?"
My heart soared. I could, with his enabling, fear less in this moment than the last.
And there in the last of a dark night, the Lord laid out His plan for my growth this year.
There were no donuts and coffee, no table of important people with pens and date books to map it out, no conference calls, no zoom meeting.
Just Him and me, on a dirty floor, listening as He explained how my faith could strengthen as I cling to 2 Timothy 1:7- "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
I am thankful for the Holy Spirit who speaks to a heart leaning hard on Him.
I am thankful that He has a plan when we lay completely out of breath in the dark.
It's pretty vulnerable to put this out there but this is the year for less fear.
Less fear of what you might think when I know that the Lord is using this broken body for His purposes.
The devil has his 2021 planner out and in case you haven't figured it out, your name is written all over it with green highlighter.
He knows your weaknesses and he wants to exploit them when you've had a stressful day, have watched too much news, have skipped your Bible reading and haven't seen real answers in prayer for all of the busyness.
With so many physical New Year's goals that the Bible tells us profit us "little," why not dig into so many ways to grow and strengthen a faith that will carry us all the way to our final home regardless of who occupies the White House?
When I finalized my word for this year I decided to have a sweatshirt printed to not only hold me to it, but encourage others I see out and about.
I ordered it and didn't think of it but for an email here and there telling me it was done or just shipped and then.
Then I got busy and received a note on instagram messages:
"My dear sister, it's time for you to get back to that blog of yours! This Mama sure could use some encouraging words...."
A bold, kind, friend, provoking me to love and to good works in an amazing way.
And I decided that today was the day. The day to reach out and encourage even just one.
To fear less and encourage more.
And wouldn't you know that I received a little message on my phone that something had JUST arrived in my mailbox.
Can you guess what it was?
A complete, "I see you, I love you, go and get it!" from the Lord.
This world is a hot.mess.
And January has already stretched this new word of mine. I've had to say, "Lord. You are able. I choose to fear less and trust you more. It may only be a teeny bit more than yesterday, but it's still more."
In a climate that tells you that you are too much remember that you are exactly what the Lord has made you to be.
And it's not you that loves, or obeys or desires any good thing, but HE who lives in you who accomplishes anything for His glory.
Philippians 2:13- "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
How glorious it is to remember that it isn't LESS of us, it's NONE of us.
Less thinking that we have any thing to do with our becoming more like the Lord and more understanding that we can only but depend on Him to work in us as we love Him.
It will not look like last year.
It will have its own hills and valleys.
It CAN be even more blessed and wonderful to walk through as we look for more of Him each day He gives us.
Less resolutions and MORE resolving to cling to Him with every breath.