This week we begin a new year. 2012 is fresh, with no mistakes in it. (That one’s for the Anne Shirley fans.) For the past several years I’ve chosen One Little Word that I wanted to focus on for the year. Listen, Peace, Slow, Focus, and an honorary word from years ago, Breathe. This year I’m not choosing a word, but an idea.
A Life Poured Out.
Holding Nothing Back. Not conserving my energy or my resources or my creativity or my love or my service (or even my craft supplies!) for a rainy day in the near or distant future. Pouring myself out like a drink offering, reserving nothing. Like the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet. Like the boy who gave his loaves and fishes. Like Abraham who took Isaac to sacrifice him. Like Joshua who did crazy things like instructing his people to march around a city and shout and expect the walls to crumble. Like Jesus who said, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt. 16:24)
I am guilty of trying to save my life, my time, my energy for that something else…something that is not right in front of me now, and perhaps never will be. Can I let go of the idea of the life that I want in exchange for the actual life that God gives me today? Can I trust that His plan is for life more abundantly than I could ever dream?
This thought of pouring myself out like a drink offering came to me several weeks ago, as I was writing in my journal the petty complaints of the day. I had finished a quilt top that I originally started with a certain 5 year old girl in mind. When I started it, those many many months ago, I was sure that our little foster boys and their big sister, whom I’ll call Tall Girl, would be on their way to being part of our family by now. The quilt was stitched with dreams of Tall Girl sharing our Small Girl’s bedroom, a handmade quilt on each bed. A dream that has not happened, and maybe never will. What could I do with this quilt now? It sits, unfinished and waiting for someone. That day as I wrote, I realized that I was holding back. If I made that quilt with Tall Girl in mind, then Tall Girl should have it, whether she ever joins our family or not. Believe me, for a slow moving quilter who rarely gives them away, that is a big offering.
The thought led me to another. What else am I holding back, just in case? This plays out in my possessions, my schedule, my routines, my heart. If I haven’t used that thingamajig in that one cupboard by now, I probably never will. Why not let it move on to someone else? If my heart feels tugged toward three children who may never share my home, why worry? Why not pour out the love as if they were my own? If I want my house to be clean, I need to stop holding back and throw myself into a new routine with all my heart. If I pour myself out, suffering nothing from laziness, I can trust that God will fill me up again.
I need to learn to Find Worship In The Work.
I’m not talking about adding activities and commitments and more lists of things to do to my life. I learned during the Breathe years how valuable it is to choose not to hurry. I am not one to neglect myself or run myself ragged with lack of self care. I have learned not to force my family into hurrying through life. But I’m still learning how to hold loosely to the things of this life. If I am letting my time, talents and treasures pass through me and prayerfully on to others, maybe I’ll see more clearly what the most important things are. Maybe I’ll learn how to pare down my life to just those essentials.
Maybe I’ll better learn to Love My Neighbor with abandon.
I’m just starting out on this 2012 journey to live a life poured out for God, find worship in work, and love my neighbor. I want to live for the cause of Christ, whether that cause is blessing my husband with a clean shirt and a relatively neat house, blessing my kids with another game or book together, or blessing others with extravagant love or exhausting sacrifice, I’m eager to get going. Today was day one of the boys being back to school, and I felt good and successful as I started the journey. Aren’t day ones just like that? It’s days two and up that are trickier.
Let me begin 2012 by sharing the three verses I wrote in the front of my new bible journal, from Lamentations 2:19, Malachi 3:10, and my long-time favorite Matthew 16:24.
Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the LORD; lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones who are faint because of hunger.
“Test me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
Then Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my disciple, you must deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”