Entering 2015 with Empty Hands
A new year is upon us. This happens every 365 days. Every 365 days people begin talking about making changes, setting new goals, setting resolutions, wishing for a better year than the previous one had been.
I quit making resolutions several years ago. However, I will be setting some goals for 2015 as I need to make some changes in my life. Without a direction, I will not end up where I want to be.
Two major things I will be tackling in 2015 are:
- Learning to just rest in the love of God.
- Endeavoring to discover the unvarnished, undiluted Jesus.
I am a performer in the sense that I seek people’s approval. It comes from rejection issues that unfortunately I am still dealing with. I wish I could tell you that I am full of healthy self-esteem and that I need no man’s approval. I can’t. I would be lying if I did. I am better than I have been but that performance mentality still lingers.
It certainly messes with my view of God. I know that God’s grace is what saves and keeps me, but I still, at times, feel the need to prove myself to Him. I still feel the need “to pay the price” to attain what Christ so freely and richly offers. I have a hard time just accepting His gracious gift and resting in the finished work of the cross.
So I am going to strip myself down of every dream, aspiration and plan in order that I can just start fresh in His love. So much of what I struggle with is performance, so I am going to just lay it all down to seek Him.
We all have a tendency to get caught up in the processes and performances of ministry and “church life” that it’s easy to allow those things to become the main thing. Resting in Christ is the main thing. That doesn’t mean that we don’t do anything for the Lord. For me, I want to do something. I want to change the world in which I live. I want to make a difference. But I want to do it from a place of resting in Him whereby I have heard His heart for what I am doing.
Not to mention my ideas of success are not always the same as the Lords. As I work from a place of rest, I can find comfort in doing things that may not seem successful from anyone’s standpoint, mine included. But if I hear Him ask me to do it and I obey then I have not only been successful but I am now being significant.
Secondly, I want to spend time unlearning what I know in order that I might learn Jesus afresh and anew. Several years ago, while going through a major crisis in my life, I came to the realization that I didn’t know Jesus as a Person. I wrote about that here. I was born again and a follower of Jesus but knowing him as a friend wasn’t happening. As He revealed that to me and I began the process of discovering Him, I came to the realization that a lot of what I believed about Jesus wasn’t true, or at least it was a bit skewed.
My picture of Jesus affected my view of God. I started on a fresh journey that eventually led me out of the group that I was a part of, including resigning from the church that I was pastoring at that time. I began to discover fellow travelers that presented Jesus to me in a way that made more sense, lined up more with the Bible and helped me to truly put Jesus at the center of everything.
This year I want to go deeper to see the unvarnished Jesus (as Brian Zahnd puts it), as well as the undiluted Jesus (as Benjamin L. Corey puts it). It seems to me that we have made Jesus to look like we want him to look. In my stream of Christianity there is too much politics mixed in with our understanding of Jesus. There is too much American Christianity mixed in with our image of Jesus. I want to spend this year looking at Jesus with fresh eyes seeing him for the first time. I want the pure Jesus. At times, I am sure that I may not like what I see. At times, I am sure that my own ideas are going to be challenged. That’s okay.
Just give me Jesus. Pure 100% Jesus. Not the painted up, varnished over Jesus. Not the diluted, watered-down American Jesus. Just let me see Him for who He really is. Then I can surely become who I am supposed to be with Him as my example.
Lastly, I am going into 2015 with empty hands. I have been carrying a lot of baggage over the past couple of years. Failed relationships, a failed marriage in 2013 (the Lord gave me a beautiful bride in 2014!), a lost church, lots of crushed and broken dreams — these are things that I feel that the Lord has asked me to lay down at the end of 2014 so that I can receive fresh dreams for 2015. It’s not been easy to lay them down as they were a part of me. And I am sure that I will try to pick some of them back up again only to be reminded by the Spirit that I have laid them down.
2015 will be no different than 2014 if I don’t do things differently. For my life’s sake, I must make some changes. So bring it on 2015. Let’s see where the Lord will take us this year. I am certainly ready for something new!