Last year, I decided to pick one word that would be my central focus for the year.
After much prayer, God led me to the word “obedience”. He clearly has a sense of humor.
I knew I needed to listen a little more intently to what He wanted me to do and how He wanted me to do it so I obediently chose the word “obedience” and expected a somewhat simple year of listening to what He said and then just doing it.
The thing about obedience is that it’s really not that simple. It’s always the RIGHT thing to do but with obedience comes some other, shall we say, opportunities for pruning.
As I wrote last spring, Pride and Humility are the twin sons of obedience. Happy happy joy joy.
Before I chose this word, I never would have thought I had any problems with pride and humility. I try not to “toot my own horn”. I can usually admit when I’m wrong. Certainly, this is not an area where I struggle, right?
But here’s how it worked…
God: “Natalie, you were wrong. You need to go that person and own your part and then seek forgiveness.”
Me: “Really? Can’t I just ask for forgiveness from you and go on my merry way?”
God: “Well you can but that’s not really what I want you to do now, is it?”
Me: Deep sigh. “No”.
And then I realize that I’m behaving like my children when they don’t want to do something.
Or it could even be as simple as getting to my car in the Target parking lot with a cart-load of groceries and three tired and hungry children and noticing there’s a case of unpaid-for Diet Coke down below and God, can’t I just tell them the next time I go?
No. That’s not the right thing to do. It’s still stealing.
Behavior like a child who is still in the egocentric stage of development.
An impulse to help a wheelchair-bound woman take her groceries to her car while, again, I have my three hungry and tired children. (And yes, it’s true that my children are always hungry and yes, it’s true that I should probably improve upon when I go shopping with them or maybe just not at all ever? Dream.)
But God, I don’t have time. What if she thinks I’m a fool?
“You don’t have TIME?” He says. “Have I ever said “I don’t have time when you have needed help from me? Are you wanting to please man or me?”
PRIDE. IT’S NOT ALWAYS ALL ABOUT ME.
I found that almost everything He asked me to do could be traced back to the central root of pride and humility.
I couldn’t be obedient, friends, without doing some shearing of the pride and humility that formed a translucent veil over my face – maybe you couldn’t see it but it was still there.
And boy, do I still have a long way to go but boy, did I learn. And continue to do so.
Here’s the other thing: once you choose your word, you don’t get to just say “Whew, glad that one’s over” and move on. If only.
Obedience is a life-long thing. This is just the introduction.
I emerge from this year a little bit more mature than I was this time last year. I have seen a bit more of the world. I have seen suffering. I have listened to stories of such sadness that I had to retreat for a summer and wallow in it a bit. I have held my hand to my chest in attempts to hold my broken-heart together. I have cried real, anguished tears that can only be dried by Him who called me to obey in the first place.
In other words, some branches were pruned and it hurt, yes. Doesn’t it always? Who, really, likes to be pruned?
But the fruit that comes from it is worth it. Joy does indeed come in the morning.
Happy New Year, Sweet Friends. What’s something you learned in 2011?
Come back on Wednesday when I will begin a short series on my new word for 2012…
And because I need to continue to go to Him with a grateful heart, I thank Him today for:
652. The joys of new fish brought by Santa
653. Cool new “boyish toys” like the Black and Decker tool bench and wow, those Beyblades are so cool…
654. A husband whose New Year’s Resolution is to be a better husband and is blowing his wife away with his attentiveness
655. A wife who is trying to do the same but isn’t doing as well as the husband – but still trying
656. The loud, dirty, potty-humored spirit of little boys
657. The right words when explaining to the above why it’s not good manner to yell “POOP!” in the middle of dinner
658. More rest. More rest. More rest. See number 654. Thank you, dear husband.
659. A new year – I love the beginning of it all. The hope. The excitement of growth. The promise.
660. A 3 1/2 year old belly that still carries baby fat and looks really cute in the bathtub…But I know it won’t be there for much longer so I relish.
This week may you look for ways to chip away on your translucent veil (if you feel, like me, you wear one.) May you look pride in the eye and obey regardless of the fear. May you be humble in spirit.
Joining in with Ann for Multitude Mondays and Jen for Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood…