I am always grateful for that special window of time, when the old year is nearly finished and the clean slate of a new year beckons. Just the anticipation of entering into that season fills me with a quiet HOPE of fresh beginnings. To keep this time productive, I resist the temptation of focusing on regrets or successes. Instead, I prayerfully ask God for a teachable heart as Psalm 139:23, 24 guides me in this process:
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
2012 was a challenging year in many ways, which perhaps is why focusing on Deuteronomy in my Journey Notes in recent months has been so meaningful. Yesterday, I was struck by Moses’ insights regarding the necessity of discipline throughout life. As he prepared the Israelites to leave the desert after forty years of wandering, Moses reminded them of how God’s loving discipline had readied them to finally cross the Jordan:
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna . . . to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.“ (Verses 2,3)
Learning humility through God’s loving discipline (not humiliation) is essential at various junctures in our lives to teach us to rely on Him for our every need. Deuteronomy 6:18 establishes our reward in keeping Him central in our minds and hearts,
“Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you . . . .”
Humanly, I would like to think that after thirty-plus years of serving Christ, that I would be independent and not have to bother Him with my needs. But with every challenge and disappointment as well as in savoring those special joys that make our lives uniquely ours, I am increasingly aware that I need Him more than ever . . . which is exactly His plan!
In light of having our seven grandchildren visiting almost daily over the holidays, this is (in part) what I wrote yesterday in in my Journey Notes as a response to the wisdom of Deuteronomy:
“How precious it has been to have all of our grandchildren together for Christmas! Spanning from age thirteen to three, it has been a delight to watch them interact as loving cousins. Not once have I heard a crude or rude remark between them during the almost two weeks we have been together! (This does not mean there were no flare-ups between siblings, there certainly were!) But as I have been reading Deuteronomy I have been grateful for the insights given as to the value of discipline and on-going training that went into preparing the Israelites to cross the Jordan. I am grateful to know that the outward love our grandchildren demonstrate for one another is founded on the forge of godly discipline and on-going training. I pray Lord that you will continue to keep our family humbly reliant on Your Spirit and Your Word to keep us on the straight path.”
That same loving discipline (that of necessity includes learning humility) is essential to your continued spiritual growth as well as my own. That is why I invite you to join me as the clean slate of a new year beckons . . . seek God’s wisdom and perspective on the past years regrets and successes. Prayerfully thank Him for His plan for your life as you commit to enter into the new year increasingly reliant on Him.
All to His Glory!