There is always something fresh about a new year. We spend so many hours of the summer with sand between our feet and the sun in our eyes, sea salt flavouring everything we touch. I also spend a lot of time with a journal and a pen in my hand or my iPad not too far away..jotting down my many and varied thoughts. There is no better time for me to revisit what God has revealed to me as a year has come to a close. The highlights and the challenges as well as the many and varied thoughts I have about the year ahead.
Come February most of us hit the ground running and hope that our habits have changed and that we’ll get better at the routines we want to put in place. But by the end of February it all becomes a blur called busy. January for me is really important. I call it getting switched ON. We always head away as a family in January and Steve switches off from 2012 and from church and really has a holiday but it is when I switch on. I think I send him nuts cos I start asking him questions about things he doesn’t want to think about. I use this time to fine-tune my ears to hear from God about everything in my life. And I mean everything. I do not want to be caught off guard or side swiped by something that could have been prevented because I was asleep when I should have
‘awakened the dawn’.
It is really important for me to sense what God wants to do in my life to help me flourish in this year ahead and it is absolutely vital that I switch on to what he is saying. Before I have to think about my kids shoe size and how much I have budgeted for new school uniforms and before school starts back I spend a lot of time praying over each month of the year, praying over the plans I have for my personal life. I pray over the year my kids are about to face and friends they choose. I call it being INTENTIONAL. Women tend to get to January and want to revamp their fitness but what about the rest of your life. What about your spiritual nutrition, your thought life, you heart issues. As you make your list up I wonder how intentional you are about the your spiritual passion and zeal. The imagery I get is that of a fire. The bible uses the imagery of fire in connection to spiritual zeal, to using your gifts, to your personal walks with God.
I got to speak at the last Sunday of 2013 but before I did, I wrote my message in a few sections for this blog to help you evaluate the sate of your heart and the fire in your soul throughout this year. There is a lot to digest but to be op honest it is quite simple. the same way you light a fire…there are simple ways of keeping fire in your soul burning and ensuring that it is stoked. Ye short version online http://hillschurch.com.au/sermons/20131229-fires/
Growing up in Africa, my mum got used to no electricity and using a wood stove to cook on and a fire to heat our hot water, so when we moved back to Australia, it made sense to install a wood stove to warm our house, backed and hot water.
Amongst other things, this at times had a way of making a teenage girl at a private boarding school (who’s peers seemed really well off) feel like we were living in poverty street. That fire was meant to be on 24 hours a day and it was my brother’s responsibility as we got older, to chop the wood, and keep the fire going. There were plenty of mornings in the middle of a cold Toowoomba winter when a member of my family could heard squealing at the top of their lungs, from the shower because the fire had gone out over night and the water felt like it came directly from Antarctica.
I remember well, one weekend when I was about 17, my parents were preparing to return to Africa and were away most weekends visiting churches and raising support for the next missionary adventure. I spent a number of these weekends out at a friend’s farm – a beautiful property outside of Toowoomba, where some of my best teenage memories were made. This particular weekend I remember inviting my stunning, stylish, friend to come stay at my place while mum and Dad were away. I think I had a mind blank and had forgotten what our house was like. It was all going according to plan until I realised the fire had gone out and there would be no hot water. For my friend who had everything and had never even felt a cold shower, the thought of putting her through a camping experience inside my home was terrifying. Instead of seeing the funny side of how this could turn out…I panicked and put my Royal Ranger camping experience to the test. I was going to get that fire roaring and that water was going to burn. So I set to work.
As we look ahead to this year 2014, it would be easy to create our list of goals and what we want to change, our new resolutions for yet another year and get geared up to do more, be more, help more, do better, be better…. But for me this year is not so much about any of that as much as it is about keeping and maintaining my spiritual passion and zeal.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fuelled and aflame. (Romans 12:11 MSG)
God spoke to Moses: “Command Aaron and his sons. Tell them, These are the instructions for the Whole-Burnt-Offering. Leave the Whole-Burnt-Offering on the Altar hearth through the night until morning, with the fire kept burning on the Altar. Then dress in your linen clothes with linen underwear next to your body. Remove the ashes remaining from the Whole-Burnt-Offering and place them beside the Altar. Then change clothes and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. Meanwhile keep the fire on the Altar burning; it must not go out. Replenish the wood for the fire every morning, arrange the Whole-Burnt-Offering on it, and burn the fat of the Peace-Offering on top of it all. Keep the fire burning on the Altar continuously. It must not go out.
Join me over the next few weeks as I visit the three things that I will be looking out for as I navigate the beauty…the wonder…the challenges…and growth opportunities that this year is going to bring.