The New Year wears hope like a fragrance.
I watch a new day of the first month of a brand new year come, breaking up over the horizon, up through hopelessness, there on the rim of our fields and the scent, fresh, carries in on the wind… carries me.
Unspoiled winter stretches across our fields — like an unfurled year awaiting new ways of walking.
How will I trek out across this new year?
And then I catch a whiff of it, that stench.
That decaying rank that I know all too well: fear. Fear that I am impotent of change, that new ways can’t be my ways.
What if I will always be this way… (fill in the blank with fear of personal choice: self-centered, overweight, uneducated, unmotivated, debt-ridden, angry, anxious, apathetic, unfulfilled…)
What if our family, this marriage, these children, stagnate, fester, languish? What if all tomorrows are just more of all our yesterdays?
A thousand times I’ve told myself, “I simply must try harder.” Try harder to be more organized, try harder to educate our children better, try harder to be more after God’s heart.
But I know it: trying harder only results in harder trials.
Self-striving nurtures self-hatred. Toiling in the flesh produces foiling in the soul.
Looking back on the trail tromped through other years, I can see that to forge new tracks across this year will needs more than simply sheer effort, gritty determination.
The wind lifts the branches of the spruce trees that tower outside my window. I cannot see the wind, where she comes from, where she goes, but I watch a thin veil of snow, blowing in with her, going off with her.
And the wind whispers with rumors from Home: to track new ways, one needs wind’s hope, His Spirit.
His Spirit wind covers our muddled tracks. The grace of His Spirit, fills our empty spots, intercedes, and gives us a fresh start every day.
Every single morning dawns day one, fresh start. The fear ebbs.
The sun rises higher and I decide: no more “try harder” admonitions this year. I look out across our fields of white into a New Year and I have a new plan.
1. SET BACK TO THE WIND
Set back to the wind, and let His Spirit gently carry when the feet are too weak to carry on. Not to try harder but to pray new prayers that transport to new places: “Spirit, fill more of me. Lift me, Spirit.” Set out into New Year knowing,“It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing” (Jn 6:36). Set back to His Wind and let Him fill the sails of life.
2. SET JAW
Set back to the wind and set jaw to persevere. “For we add to our faith, perseverance.” The day will be long, the way deep. Discouraged, we’ll be tempted to turn back to familiar, rutted paths. But set hand he plow and refuse to turn back. For, really, what can go awry? The Spirit’s got your back.
3. SET TIMES
Set, fixed, times to make certain tracks each day allows for the wind to move us, for inspiration to surprise us. Sporadic creativity or intermittent commitment generally fails to forge a steady trail. Progress is born out of rhythm, routine, regularity….set times.
It is how the saints met God: Daniel prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10), the psalmist purposed to praise seven times a day, the early disciples prayed at fixed hours (Acts 2:15). If set times are the necessary catalysts for spiritual growth, so are set times critically compelling elements for life growth. With back set to the wind, and jaw set, set habitual times to pioneer new habits. Uncertain times lead to certain failure.
4. SET SIGHTS
Every day keep the intermediate goals in clear line of sight.
Set goals into achievable segments, and fix sights on the these midway markers: one pound shed this week, 15 minutes of organization, one date night a week with a child. Set sights close… “By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I am not turning back” (Phil 3:13 MSG).
5. SET OUT
Simply, finally, take the first step. Again and again. The wind, hope on its wings, sweeps each new day clean before us, and sweeps over our tracks from yesterday, filling with grace.
“Jesus said…You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62 MSG).
Seize the day!
Set jaw, set times, set sights, set back to the wind…and unfold arms, like wings extending.
A New Year blows in.
I feel that Spirit wind catch, lift.
We are set to Soar.
Where do you sense the Spirit helping you soar this year?
Tell us about your 5 Step Plan for SOARING: How are you setting back to the wind, setting jaw, setting times, setting sights, setting out?
What’s your first step? Let’s ENCOURAGE each other!
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