The beauty of a new year is just that, it’s NEW! It’s an opportunity to turn a new chapter and decide what we want written on the pages of 2018. So many people set New Year’s resolutions that fall by the wayside within a few months. Why? I believe it’s because we’re too quick to decide on what those resolutions should be without taking inventory of the past year. It’s important to look back and learn in order to move on. Ask questions such as, “What did I learn in 2017? What challenges did I face and how did I overcome them? Where have I grown emotionally, intellectually, and relationally? In the areas where we feel we failed or didn’t grow as much as we could have, ask why? What was the roadblock? How can I work to remove that and grow in those areas this year?” Spend time in prayer and write out answers to these questions. Allow the Lord to set your New Year’s resolutions, based on where He wants you to grow.
I faced quite a trial in 2017 when I went back to Michigan to be with my father in his final months on this earth. Not only was it difficult to be losing him but I also had to deal with spiritual and emotional attacks. The enemy didn’t want me there and used dysfunctional family dynamics to try to force me to leave. I leaned on the Lord harder than I ever had before. A few times amid a spiritual firestorm I responded as I felt the Holy Spirit was directing me. It wasn’t easy, trust me! Multiple times I was verbally attacked with false accusations. My natural bent would be to yell back and stand up for myself; I remained calm. I was also attacked physically by two dogs who chewed me up good. What a day that was! I found the strength to escape the dogs and remain calm so I could tend to my dad as well as get my own wounds cared for. The enemy is real but God is SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL! He wins and we win when we can trust Him and do as He leads us. It wasn’t easy but the peace of the Lord was so strong in me over those months. I knew I was there for my dad, helping him to find peace within his soul as his body was succumbing to the cancer. It required me to be ‘other’ focused and not focused on my own need for comfort.
What’s so crazy is that I can go through such a trial and come out with peace and maturity, only to find myself a few months later acting immaturely when faced with new trials in my home. Why? It’s part of the honest inventory I need to take in order to work towards a new level of growth in 2018. We’re all a continuous work, being gently shaped in our Creator’s hands.
I’ve joined a group of coaches in a 31 day prayer challenge put together by Kim Avery (www.kimaverycoaching.com). Day One we prayed the scripture Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things; which you do not know.” (NKJV). This was what I needed; it’s been a tough week for me for multiple reasons. Kim added to our scripture the start of a prayer; “Lord, thank you that your presence, your purposes, and your power are available to me every moment of every day as I call out to you.” What an excellent reminder! We’re NEVER outside of the Lord’s presence; He is ALWAYS with us. Today (Day 2)’s verse, said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NASB. God is with us at all times. The enemy will attack and does; but we ALWAYS have access to the Lord’s power, He never leaves us to deal with the enemy alone. The Jeremiah scripture says, “I will answer you” not I will consider answering you or I might answer you. No, our God promises when we call out to Him, He WILL answer us! He doesn’t say I am with you only when you do what I want, or when I feel like it. He says I am with you ALWAYs. We’re never outside His presence and we always have access to His power and His purposes. Now I need to believe and practice remaining in His presence, calling out to Him and choose to utilize the weapons He has given me.
I’m excited for 2018! There are some emotional habits I desire to change in order to reach a new level of maturity. It’s time to put into practice the steps the Lord reveals, continuing to lean on Him daily and not on my own strength!
Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves