Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Walking by the Spirit in the New Year

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Stil

"Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him." ~James 1:5

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil." ~James 4:13-16

As we enter into the new year, the best thing we can do is hold our plan for 2021 – with all our resolutions and goals – in an open hand. As we sit down to “map out” our goals and resolutions for the year ahead, may we make putting James 1:5 and James 4:13-16 into practice the very first thing we do.

This goes beyond merely living with an open hand that is willing to change our plan at any time during the month of January, however. It is something that should extend all throughout the year so that even if we are sure that our plan for the New year came from God, we can be ready and willing to change everything up if God suddenly tells us to. After all, there are not only different seasons in life, but different seasons in a year’s time, too! We have no idea what all 2021 will involve – there may be births, deaths, financial changes, and more, and we have to be willing to be intuned to the Holy Spirit to make any changes as needed as we journey throughout the whole year.

Ask the Spirit to lead your each and every day (not just your year as a whole!).

In order to live out our first point of living open-handedly, we have to break it down into a step-by-step, day-by-day practice of beginning each of our days with a prayer for wisdom, guidance, direction, and the willingness to follow it all. 

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to idolize my own self-made daily to-do list. This struggle of mine is so bad that if I get interrupted or if my daily plan gets thwarted, I can easily get angry or frustrated (and usually at my kids, who are often the ones whose needs can “interrupt” what I think is important for my day). What God, in His grace, is beginning to show me more and more, however, is that I am not only harming my relationship with my loved ones when I do this; I am also living out a poor example for them.

The reality of what I am doing is that I am actually missing out on the good, perfect, meaningful, and big-picture plan of God! When I so thoroughly schedule and plan out my days that I am not open, available, and able to willingly change things up at the drop of a hat, I am missing out on what may actually be God’s plan and mission for my daily life. 

If I am only concerned with my finite, nearsighted plan and schedule, I am not able to easily hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I am not aware of the people around me (my family, the grocery store clerk, the homeless man, the neighbor, the friend) who may need the good news of the gospel, a warm meal, a caring smile, a listening ear, or a few dollars of God’s money that is currently in my purse. I’m missing out, plain and simple. But this can all be changed for the better if I will but begin my day by first seeking the Lord’s plan for it, rather than my own.

Remember what is ultimately most important (and it isn’t your 2021 goals, resolutions, or plans!)

What I regularly have to remember is that a truly fruitful life comes not through checking off my to-do lists and meeting all my yearly goals. A truly fruitful life comes from abiding in Christ; it comes from being in His Word and then living it out. It comes from walking by the Spirit and hearing and heeding HIs promptings. If I want 2021 to be my most intentional, purposeful, joyful, and impactful year yet, walking by the Spirit is what I am going to have to do – not merely heed the “wisdom” of the self-help gurus or the productivity “experts”.

What this looks like is intentionally leaning not on my own understanding, but in ALL my ways, acknowledging God, knowing that He will perfectly guide and direct my steps. (see Proverbs 3:5-6; 16:9).

Remember Christianity is about a relationship.

There is nothing inherently wrong with making goals and plans for the new year; the problem comes when we place our own agenda for our year ahead of God’s agenda for our every day. What God desires for us as believers is a step-by-step, day-by-day intimate relationship with Him. He wants to be involved in each and every detail of our daily lives and welcomed into them. This is what walking by the Spirit is all about.

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