When Your New Year Longs for Rest in Him

Originally published Saturday, 31 December 2016.

Fresh and new, a clean slate to write a new story. I love making goals and plans. I’m not at all opposed to resolutions. We might as well “try better” at some point and I think the first day of a fresh year is absolutely suitable for pressing the restart button. I love dreaming and working toward a deadline. I really do. Yet, there is a tension here the past few years.

The tension isn’t a fear of failure or one of not meeting the goals. No, that isn’t it at all. I am actually quite resilient about failure. I can bounce back if I don’t meet a goal, because there’s always something else to reach toward or a new direction to point our energy. Right?  Still…I have a slight hesitation toward making my own plan, this year.

new years blog post

The thing is…I don’t really want to write my own story, anymore. Again, this is not about anyone else’s goals. Happy goal-setting! Planning is a noble and worthy use of time, sweet friends. This is about the heart idol of control that I have been striving to lay down at the feet of Jesus. This is about my own personal heart and my own struggle with sin. I only share it with you because perhaps another precious reader struggles with the idol of control, as well. Let’s chat about that. Shall we?

Here is what I know for sure. I know that I could set a nice list of attainable goals and that I could chase after those with all of my might. I know that I could reach many of my goals, not because I am awesome. No, no. That is not the case. I could meet my goals because goodness, I’m a girl who trades in sleep for projects and chooses partial anxiety over peaceful rest. I go big or go home. Let me tell you a bit about the problems with this sort of ambition.

The scoop here? Friend, I may set a dozen goals for myself that God might not set for me. By golly, I would run hard and fast after those little dreams, attempting to conquer one (or three) at a time. This is not the sole problem. 

The biggest problem here? Well…I might distract myself from the things God is truly calling me to do or perhaps, the things he is calling me to lay down. I’m not afraid of thwarting God’s plan. God is sovereign and He is on His throne. And that’s just it. I want to focus on God on HIS throne before I set out pursuing my own endeavors.

I need to focus my heart on God first. I need to chase after His own heart before I chase after the dreams in mine. There will be goal making and a whole pile of to-do lists this year.  But sweet friend? I am not fully prepared to tell God what I want to do this year, simply because I am not spiritually prepared for such a task. I need more time to spend in His presence.

And really? That is what I need more of each year. I need less time checking off the tasks and more time spent at the feet of Jesus. I need to wake up early to be with Him before I set my mind to anything else. I need to pray about His direction before I can fully pinpoint my own. This has never really been the Courtney Stanford way. The Courtney Stanford way? Oh, sisters. I have exhausted myself of that. I’ve reached a type of weariness that can only be refueled by more of Him and less of me. I need to refill the pitcher before I pour anything else out. My own goals? They shall come. Right now on this first day of a brand new year? I just need Jesus.

 Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

~Jesus in Matthew 11:28 NIV

I need more of Jesus and less of me. I need to rest in His perfect peace and be fueled by His grace so that I can hear His voice. I want to be so full of His love that I thrive. The rest will proceed the thriving, I do believe.

 I am going rest in His goodness and allow the dry pitcher of my soul to refuel with His truth and grace. When the empty parts of my life become so full of His word, what will happen? Perhaps my life will burst into a flood of the goodness of God. Perhaps. Maybe the goals will become so clearly His and so fully a calling on my heart. May goodness and mercy flow from the spaces of dry and weary emptiness. Resting on that.

What about you? Perhaps you are so full of Him that the overflow is on the paper, ready to be checked off: one by one by one. This is so good! Run your race. Don’t hold back! Thrive. We were made for this. But maybe? Maybe you need a time of rest. Yeah, me too. Let us lay down the checklists to spend time in the quiet. May our souls be refilled. Refueled. May the wellspring of our lives be the overflow of hearts preparing Him room. Let every heart. Your heart and mine? Let us be found at the feet of Jesus today and everyday of this beautiful, fresh, clean year. His love endures forever and there is room for us at the table. Pull up a chair. Our God is a God with us today and tomorrow. Checklists will wait. Our hearts are meant for Him.

May your days be a beautiful communion with our Savior. In times of resting and in times of thriving, let us be after His heart.

From my heart to yours,