I love New Years. I really do. I look forward to it from about November onward. This year I started celebrating before Christmas, eager to put the past behind me and open up that new planner, the one with no scribbles and mistakes in it. I'm as bad as the retailer who is already onto the next holiday before the first one actually arrives.
I've "chosen" Micah 6:8 for the verse I will specially meditate upon during 2016. Do you pick a verse, a song, or phrase for the year?
I put the word "chosen" in quotations, because honestly, Micah 6:8 chose me. 2015 was not good. I did not handle the trials that came my way over the course of that year with any sort of grace. There was a lot of rather undignified kicking and screaming, to be truthful. I floundered; I ranted; I withdrew; I stopped writing (more on that in another post).
Micah 6:8 "He hath shown thee, oh man, what is good. And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
The truth of it hits me like a truck. I can stop. Stop struggling to find my place in the world. I can stop trying to make the pieces fit together. I can stop trying to carry everything I've piled upon myself and just do these three things.
I can breathe.
The verse does not read, "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly, and be a super-star businesswoman and leadership mentor."
It doesn't have a codicil stating I have to "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly, and manage a magnificently-run house with magazine-perfect children living oh-so-neatly in it."
There is no fine print, heaping additional duties and burdens on top of the three tasks: "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly, and astound everyone with your volunteer work and social activism."
Just this: Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
I can do that.
In fact, it seems like a walk in the park compared to what I've added to my own plate over the years. Self-imposed stress that quite literally is killing me.
"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden." Oh yes, that's me, Lord. I raise my hand.
"I will give you rest." I don't believe it, Lord. The merry-go-round never stops. I know that now.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." I can't take on another thing, Lord, I just can't.
"And ye shall find rest unto your souls." There's that "rest" again. Maybe....maybe He means it.
"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Thunk! That's the sound of my 2015 hitting the floor.
Here I was trying to gather my strength and pile 2016 on top of what I was already carrying. But how could I? My knees were already buckling, my arms and back breaking, my strength almost-- almost--gone. The pep talk to myself dies on my lips. Relief massages my shoulders like a tangible thing.
There's a better way to be. There's a way that doesn't involve constant struggling and incessant striving and always being behind and never ever feeling good enough. There's a way that's just plain and simple freedom, without strings. There's a way that says, "Bottom line. Here's what I require of you: do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. And I will be pleased."
Ok. I can do that.
In 2016, by God's grace alone, I will do justice. To me that means righting wrongs where I can, with eyes wide open to the way sin has perverted the plan of a holy God. It means compassionately loving those who still walk in darkness and resist His will with all their might. It means drowning myself in God's Word to absorb His perfect, timeless precepts. Dealing fairly and consistently with my children and my spouse. Proceeding with nothing less than complete and utter transparency and integrity in every area of my life.
By God's grace alone, I will love mercy. To me that means living in a state of forgiveness, heavenly-enabled beyond my human ability. Endless kindness and hospitality, to strangers, widows, orphans; endless charity towards to the fatherless and the homeless, as well as family and friends. Assigning pure motives when I want to assume the worst. To teach and admonish rather than remonstrate and punish. Cherishing the truth that nothing is too hard for God, not even granting enough grace to forgive the unforgivable.
By God's grace alone, I will walk humbly. That's the hardest one because it hits me right in the pride. To me it means submitting myself to His will, when my own plans look like more fun. Not picking back up the burdens He never placed on my shoulders to begin with. Running my business in the opposite manner from how all those "climb the ladder" books say I need to. Trusting my husband's loving leadership as the God-designed head of our family. Living transparently in front of my children, openly sharing my need for constant redirection back to the truth of the Word of God.
It's a tall order, actually. The three things, broken down, look like a much bigger list. But the thing is, although I will be working on this to-do list for a lifetime, it is a do-able list. Because His burden is truly light.
Thank you, Father, for the simple, graceful bulleted list You packed into one single verse in an ancient text. Your Word is life and health. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for breathing life into the written Word and causing it to leap up and shout at me way down the road in the year 2016. You both convict and comfort. And thank You, Jesus, for bringing me to a point where I was ready to listen, really listen, to what You said about rest for the soul. And for saying it twice, to make sure I got it.
Enable me to do Your will, oh God! For You know that I am dust. Amen