Lessons Learned: Reflections on 2012
My last blog here was nearly a year ago. At that time I fully intended to get into a weekly rhythm, but as time went on, time and motivation became scarce commodities. But God blessed me with good friends who challenged and encouraged me to respond to the prompting within and to start writing again. One even invited me to write for a blog he’d started. The built-in accountability was just what I needed! You can read some of the things I posted there at http://www.devolink.com/.
This Advent season has been especially meaningful for me. This morning I was reflecting on why that is when it dawned on me: this Advent has not been rushed. It hasn’t been a helter-skelter pursuit of anything. I’ve had lots of time to slow down and reflect. My times in the Word have been unhurried; I’ve taken time to pay attention to the desires of my heart; I’ve asked more questions; and I’ve prioritized my family.
This prompted me to ask myself: What are the three biggest lessons I’ve learned this year? What are the three things that come immediately to my mind?
1. Time for daily reflection is absolutely essential to my spiritual health. I am so convinced that busyness is a sin or at the very least being overly busy is. I also have realized, in my life and I think for most people, when I’m too busy I may do spiritual things but I rarely grow or experience joy and peace. But when I slow down and take time to reflect by asking myself good questions and then stay with the questions long enough to get past the “surface-y” answers to what is really going on at my heart level, God shows up. God speaks. I am changed. I cannot explain it, but when I intentionally take time to be with God in reflective, prayerful attention, things happen. When I don’t…not so much.
2. Good, spiritual friends are often used by God to be the catalyst to get me moving in the right direction. This isn’t a new lesson for me, but after more than a year without regular interaction with godly friends whose very lives spurred me to want more of Jesus, I rediscovered how true it is in 2012. God blessed me with two and sometimes three friends whose willingness to ask hard questions, to actively listen, and to share openly from their hearts jolted me from spiritual lethargy, helped steer me away from wasted effort, or just inspired me to seek more because of the Jesus I saw in them.
3. Intentional, proactive living is the only way I will 1) realize my heart’s deepest desires and 2) really live a contented life. When I live life simply reacting to what is going on around me, I waste a lot of time. I miss out on a lot of good and wonderful things God has for me. But when I live life according to “the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message); when I make space for God and truly give him first place in my life; it makes all the difference in the world. Frustrations and challenges become opportunities for growth. My life is centered and I’m better able to respond to things from my heart and with wisdom rather than on instinct. I’m slower to speak, quicker to listen…slower to judge, quicker to have empathize…slower to anger, quicker to forgive.
In the coming year I will continue to write weekly (as much as I can) for Devo-Link. But I would like to begin writing here again too. If I take the lessons learned above to heart, I should be able to do it! By God’s grace…