I love the crisp new calendar smell, the uncountable options for the unfilled pages. There’s something exciting about the way it feels to have my face in the wind of a new year to inspire me to consider what could be.
We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (Romans 5:1b-2)
This paraphrase sums up a dream I have for the new year which trumps the rest: to be fully alive in the wide-open spaces of God’s grace and glory shouting my praise.
Doesn’t that outdo consistent meal planning and thinner thighs? Give me some wide-open space to reflect His glory and I’ll call it a banner year.
The first time I heard St. Irenaeus’s statement “The glory of God is a (wo)man fully alive,” it changed my life. I never considered the idea of my coming fully alive as the best reflection of God’s glory. I knew He was for me, but to understand how my living fully was tied to His glory was more than I could have hoped. His affections for me were even greater than I imagined.
For the first time, I understood how my longing to savor and fully enjoy all of life isn’t a selfish aim, but is in fact what brings glory to God.
There are times we look to the future and the terror of the what if drowns out any excitement about what could be. But if we live like we believe God is for us—truly believe it down in our bones—then the future isn’t something to fear, but something to celebrate.
What if we turned resolutions upside down this year and resolved to:
1. Live like we believe God is for us.
The bedrock to a full life is trust in God. We have to take Him at His word and live like we believe it. We build trust based on His proven track record to work everything for our good. Once we fully appreciate His loving intentions toward us, we can rest in His plan.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. (Psalm 37:3)
2. Find liberty in our limitations.
In the wide open space of His perfect love, we will let go of our pursuit of perfection. We will remember we have been perfected in His love. The good news is, we were never designed to have it all together (or even pretend to).
In Christ we are complete and only one thing is expected of us: to love Him and reflect His glory.
3. Keep our hopes up and let go of worry.
Hope is described as an anchor for the soul designed to hold us in place when it’s properly attached to truth. He loves us. He will never leave us. He works everything together for our good.
When our hope is in the Lord, we are not endangered; we are renewed.
4. Give God the glory for the things He has done.
Recalling His faithfulness not only increases our faith, it also summons our praise. When we look back on His faithfulness in our lives, we see a pattern emerge: He’s good and holy and loving every single time. He is so worthy of our praise.
Joy rises when we choose gratitude over comparison
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. (Psalm 100:4)
A full and peaceful, though not problem-free life is available to us. But it is on the other side of our trust in God and surrender of our illusion of control.
He’s inviting us to believe Him—to leave some space on those calendar pages to sip and savor and enjoy the present.
He’s beckoning us to leave our cares in His more than capable hands and come out in the wide open spaces of His grace and glory to stand tall and shout our praise.
Let’s put our faces to the wind of this new year with our hopes up and our souls all in. Life is for the living, and as long as we’re still here, let’s make sure we’re fully alive.Leave a Comment
Terri Kyle says
Perfect! My thoughts.. you nailed it! Amen. Leaning forward into 2017 with abundant faith.
Thank you so much, Terri! Yes to leaning in! Cheers to you in 2017!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I agree with Terri….what TRUTH here….all I can say is, “AMEN!” Every resolution you cited continually takes the spotlight off us and places our hope and trust in hope’s source – God!
Joining you in going forward, fully alive, into 2017!
Thank you, Bev! I love how call God hope’s source. Indeed! Cheers to life in 2017!
Kathy Strandjord says
I love this Melinda! You write so well!!
Thank you, dear friend! I appreciate you reading and commenting with such encouragement.
Michele Morin says
Completely leveled by that translation of Romans 5 and then your glowing words to follow it up. My goodness, we are so blessed in Christ!
You’re so right, Michele! Blessed beyond measure. And isn’t that paraphrase something else? I love it too!
Grace Gallagher says
Wow your words have giving me the courage to go forward. I felt God speaking them to me. It is another huge step in my life that I need to do. I know God loves me but I have been so hurt in my life with divorce and disease. I now feel he loves me so much and my attitude of gratitude has lead me to this next step. I am so grateful for your words and I will continue to pray that my ears be open for him to lead me. He knows I want to do my best for him and my trust is very shaky only because of my past . I also know he holds me in the palm of his hand and with him all things are possible!
Oh Grace! Thank you for sharing part of your story with us. I am so sorry to hear of the hurt you’ve experienced. Sometimes courage looks like taking a step forward with knocking knees! You are so brave to be willing to give hope another go. God loves you so much!
Grace Gallagher says
Thank you so very much. I believe in the power of prayer and I will keep you in mine.
Kathy Cheek, Devotional Writer says
I first read that statement by St. Iraneaus in John Eldredge’s awesome book, Waking the Dead, the Glory of a Heart Fully Alive on this exact subject and it was life changing for me as I was yearning for a deeper experience in my walk with God.
This morning was one of those mornings I woke up feeling it deep in my soul, fully alive in Him and it is wonderful!
May 2017 be a year we allow God to wake us up and realize how fully alive we are in Him!
Thank you for this beautiful post!
Oh, I love this Kathy! I also love your encouragement to wake up and realize the fullness of life we have in Hm! I’m also eager to read the Waking the Dead book! You’re not the first one to recommend it to me! Blessings to you in 2017 and thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!
Jamie S. Harper says
This is exactly my hope for 2017. How beautiful!
Cheers to hope, Jamie and thank you so much for reading and commenting!
This is rocking my world. Thank you for this, Melinda!
Mine too, dear Stacey! It really is life changing to get how much God is for us! Cheers to 2017, sweet friend.
Lynn D. Morrissey says
What an exhilarating, exuberant post, Melinda. I’m so glad that I took the time to read it. I love this time of year, and anticipating all its possibilities. And yet, a part of me draws back, cowering in the corners of past failures and fears, wondering why this year would be any different from last. I know it all has to do with trusting God–literally trusting him with my life. I am taking the adventure of my lifetime next March to the remote island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland (and it really scares me, because I’m going to travel abroad alone). At first, I had no earthly idea why I was doing this. This is something I would never do in a million years, and yet . . . . and yet, I feel God’s calling. It’s nearly impossible to say no to that (though, at times, sadly, I have). I’ll be joining eleven other women for a spiritual retreat there for a full week. I’m going to write snippets of your post in my “vade mecum” for encouragement and nourishment for the journey. “He’s beckoning us to leave our cares in His more than capable hands and come out in the wide open spaces of His grace and glory to stand tall and shout our praise.” I am truly going to try to trust him–not just for this trip, but my ministry–and leave my cares with Him–my fears about this pilgrimage–and come out to the wild and wide open spaces of His grace on this island at the edge of the world, at the edge of the sea, and stand tall in my hiking boots and shout His praises for all the world to hear. He’s given me an intention for this journey: New Beginnings. And I’m thinking it’s an intention we call could receive with trust and grace to live fully alive in Him. Thank you so for such a wonderful, faith-filled post! Happy New Year, Melissa, fully alive!
Lynn! What an incredible journey lies ahead for you! It’s okay to feel a little shaky in your hiking boots! We all have failure in our past, but when our future is set on him, we can be greatly reassured by the fact that He never fails! I love knowing you’ll carry this hope to the edge of the sea and look to the future with hope. Ours is a God of hope! Thank you so much for sharing your plans and heart with us. Praying for travel mercies and God’s favor on each step of our journey.
May 2017 knock your boots off in the best possible way!
Robin Lee says
I am up early, sleep elusive. And your words are serving their purpose, reminding me EXACTLY what I need to know and believe. Thank you. Thank you. With tremendous gratitude and affection.
Eloquently stated, as always dear Robin. Thank you for reading through sleepy eyes and commenting with such grace. Cheers to a full life in 2017.
“Let’s put our faces to the wind of this new year with our hopes up and our souls all in. Life is for the living, and as long as we’re still here, let’s make sure we’re fully alive.”
Decided this is going to be a motto of mine for this year! Thank you !
Oh, I love this Shelly! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.
Kela Nellums says
This spoke to my heart on so many levels!
My “word of the year” is “Approved”. It’s two-fold.
1) 2 Timothy 2:15-16; studying to show myself approved.
2) Approved by God. I’m totally accepted and I’m learning to walk in that fullness.
That second fold is where my heart meets this post so gloriously!!
Thank you for this!!
Kela! I love your word for 2017! So fitting for you–totally accepted, beloved, and approved by God. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. Cheers to the new year!
Beautiful!!! These are resolutions for the new year I’m actually wanting to follow. What joy if in 2017 I was able to bring God glory! Forget meal planning and thinner thighs – haha!!!
Yes, Kelly! I’d say living with arms and eyes wide open trumps all the rest. Cheers to 2017!
Mandy Majors says
Beautiful, beautiful post!! On point & so much truth.
Thank you so much, dear Mandy! I so appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment.
I am celebrating 2016 as the first year in four years with no health issues needing recovery. My theme had been “Hope, Health, Happiness”. It happened!!! Looking so forward to 2017 and was focusing on the year’s theme. I think you nailed it for me with the title of your article. Thanks so much. It’s going to be a great 2017!!!!
Wonderful, LaVerne! I’m celebrated restored health and hope for you. Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us. It is going to be a great 2017!!
Beautiful encouragement, Melinda. Thank you. 🙂 Happy New Year.
Thank you, Brenda and most happy new year to you too!
Tiffany Tremaine says
What a blessing and hope these words express, Happy New Year! God is working!
Oh, I’m so glad you were encouraged, Tiffany! Thank you for taking the time to share such an uplifting comment. Indeed God is working!
“He’s inviting us to believe Him – to leave some space on the calendar pages to sip and savour and enjoy the present.”
I love this and want to be intentional with regard to time management and enjoying what God has in store for 2017…..remembering that He is for me
Thank you for this encouragement Melinda! Happy New Year
I’m cheering you and your blank calendar space on for the new year! Happy New Year to you!!
Dana Mohr says
I love this! I think “fully alive” will be my theme for 2017. It will be a fitting tribute to an ugly turned victorious 2016. I’ve struggled for years understanding the phrase “abundant life”, but your post has colored in the blank areas. Thank you!
Oh, Dana! Your words bring such encouragement to me! Way to warrior through the ashes to find the beauty! Cheering you on from here!
Thanks for this reflection and inspiration, Melinda!
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Becca!
Rebecca L Jones says
No resolutions! Every morning I wake up to diet commercials, and I think it’s time to start telling women they are God’s beloved and let His love shape our lives and bodies, then the vibrant health comes. Happy 2017!
All the yeses Rebecca!!
Great inspiration on this New Year’s Eve day. Thank you!
Thank you, Barb for your kind comment and for reading!
Another beautiful and encouraging message written by my dear joy-filled friend, Melinda. I am so thankful she is using her divinely inspired talent to lift up our faith, hopes & dreams! Xoxo & Happy New Year!
Thank you, lifelong friend. Your encouragement means the world to me. <3
No matter our address or elevation or the weather, you given us all the most beautiful view of the new year.
Grateful to have hope on this last day of 2016.
Thank you, Melinda!
How beautifully stated! Thank you so much, Molly!
Melinda…today I woke up asking for a word from the Lord about what He wanted me to “live out” this new year and feeling frustrated that at times I doubt whether God speaks to me. This past year I have lived scared and have allowed the hurts of life to weigh me down and the day in/day out of raising three small girls to keep me spinning and simply surviving. Your words were like a breath from heaven to my soul this morning and I just wanted to say thank you. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I want to live each day “fully alive” to all God is, who I am and what He has for me in those wide open spaces. Freedom, Hope, Trusting Surrender. Blessings to you…xoxo
Thank you so much for taking the time to read with such an open heart. I am humbled to be a small part of God’s answer to you and am inspired by your desire to seek Him fully. Raising little ones is sacred work. It may feel unnoticed, repetitive, and undoubtedly exhausting, but it is the work of the gospel every single day. Carry on, lovely. You’re doing so well!
Melinda, your words always inspire me to press on in my lane of the race set before me. Thank you for using your gift to encourage fellow followers and magnify the One it’s all about. Carry on, sister!
So kind. Thank you so much, dear Shelly!
Happy New Year Melinda! Thank you so much for sharing. Your words have brought peace to my worried heart this morning. Needed this ❤❤ xoxo
Oh I love hearing this, Stephanie! His peace is unmatched. Thank you for taking the time to comment!
A fabulous twist on a new year. What a wonderfully succinct combination of thoughts that speaks truth, hope, freedom and certainly encouragement. Thank you for sharing this…. Please continue!
You have encouraged my heart, Merredith! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to share a comment.
Julie Carroll says
This! Thank you for this beautiful reminder as 2017 begins.
Thank you, sweet cousin for taking the time to read and comment! Cheers to 2017!
Janette Paul says
Melinda, you are so uplifting and real. Thank you for this awesome read. I love you lady ~
Thanks, sweet Janette! I love you too!
Lisa French says
So beautifully said, dear friend! Thank you for your words of truth and encouragement for 2107!
Thank you, dear Lisa! <3
Beth Williams says
We as a people of God need to live our lives as though we fully trust God with everything. It is so easy to give God our problems and then take them back thinking He can’t or isn’t handling them. One secret to living fully alive is to make a prayer list. Pray it daily. Mark the ones God has answered. You will be surprised how many He answers. For 2016 I have about 20+ answered prayers that include 2-3 miracles I was able to witness! Each time you go back to the prayer list thank God for those answered prayers. Keep reminding yourself that He will answer prayers either yes, no, or wait!
Happy New Year Everyone! 🙂
Yes, Beth! The key is *not* taking back what we’ve entrusted to him. I absolutely believe in the power of prayer and am greatly encouraged when I remember how he’s answered my prayers. Cheers to 2017!
Alyssa DeLosSantos says
All of this….so beautiful. You have a lovely way of expressing the simple joys and freedoms of faith. Keep writing and sharing, Melinda. We are listening and learning!!!
Always listening and learning from you, dear friend. Thank you for ever cheering me on! Grateful for you.
Melinda, you continue to amaze and inspire me with your wisdom and talent.
Oh, how I needed this post to remind me that whatever 2017 holds for my life as the nest empties; that I will not be alone. God has me in the palm of His mighty hand and as long as I step forward in complete faith in Him, I may stumble and fall, but He will always be there to dust me off and set me back on my feet!
I choose to live this year in eager anticipation of what His plans are in this new season instead of living in fear!
Thank you for your encouraging words and blessing the lives of your friends, family and readers. Love you so much!
Thank you, dear friend. Your nest will never be empty of love as long as your big heart is there. Love you, sweetness!
Eunice Lai says
I am late in commenting but just want to say how appreciative I am of this post. I have of late become very jaded because of life’s circumstances and have been skeptical of God being for me. This brought tears to my eyes and made me want to trust afresh that God is for me. I had not planned to choose a word for 2017 but after reading this, I decided to choose “positivity”. I want to try to look for the positive and bright side of things in this new year. Thank you for your post.
Ahh, Eunice! You have brought such encouragement to me! I am so proud of you for choosing hope and to look to the positive in the new year. Oh, how He loves you! May 2017 knock your socks off in the best possible way!
Rose Furtick says
I am an over eighty (ole) lady and due to changing churches this year am now a member of a small church and I feel put on the shelf right now. I will look forward to God using me in a greater way than I could even dream of in 2017. I will trust Him to lead and use me in His way and I will live “fully alive” Praise His Holy Name. Thanks for your message to me today. I’m smiling and am excited that Our God who loves me knows my every need and is capable, able and willing to lead me as we fill out my calendar this year.
Oh, sweet Rose! You don’t belong on any shelf! You are more spry than some who are half your age and I want to be like you when I grow up. Our God loves you so and has big plans for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. May you be richly blessed in 2017!