God’s Will For 2019

'What’s life without hope beyond the status quo?'

New Year lends itself to personal reflection. I read through my journal entries and flip through the pages of our wall calendar, thinking of milestones gone by and ordinary activities and events that filled the past 12 months. I consider aspects of my life that need to change, and ponder whether that’s realistic. Can I make my devotional time more meaningful or my morning routine more efficient? (I do love expedience!) Are there better ways to spend my evenings? What habits have crept into my life? Are they worthwhile, or should I rid myself of them? 

The clean white spaces of the 2019 calendar make me wonder what those days ahead might hold. God only knows. God makes his plan. The information’s unavailable to the mortal man, says Paul Simon. It’s best that way.

Dreams and aspirations look different when you’re in your sixties than when you’re 16. Still I set up personal goals and make plans. What’s life without hope beyond the status quo? I have learned to ask the Lord to lead the way – otherwise, it’s pointless.

A little over a year ago I wrestled with pressing issues that kept me from my own agenda. I grew anxious about not keeping up and struggled with feelings of being overwhelmed. Earnestly (with some exasperation), I asked God, “What am I supposed to do?” I know he always hears my prayers. Sometimes his answers come in unusual ways.

In this case, I Thessalonians 5: 16-18 kept showing up in devotional reading, Bible study and sermons I listened to. In one week this scripture came to my attention no less than five times. Point taken! I cracked open some commentaries and spent time, prayer and journal space meditating on the passage. I have neither the word count nor credentials to expound sufficiently here. But the message came through with undeniable clarity.

Simple, right?
Rejoice always. Believers have reason for eternal joy, even (especially) in the face of temporal trouble. Biblical joy is the fruit of the Spirit, transcending the deepest sorrow. It cannot be uprooted by the most troubling circumstance, although it might be obscured for a season. God’s children can be bone-weary, battered and bereaved, but never without true joy.

Pray without ceasing. Martin Luther had it right: “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” How long can I hold my breath? Only seconds before I gasp for air. But prayer is often my last resort, rather than my first response. Am I driven more by desperation than trust?

Give thanks in all circumstances. I love to be appreciated for what I do, even the small things. How much more, then, should I express gratitude to the One who gives literally my very next breath? Thanksgiving is the hinge on which the Christian life swings. To be thankful is to be aware of the Giver and all his good gifts. Is there a better way to alleviate anxiety over what might happen than by acknowledging the blessings that already surround me?

For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do I really want to know God’s will for me? I’d prefer some magical handwriting in the sky, step-by-step instructions, or a divine to-do list of some sort. He won’t let me be that lazy. Instead, he gives me the bottom line: Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. And do it all consistently – always, without ceasing, in all circumstances. 

Sounds simple, but I know better. It will keep me more than busy for the next 365 days. Lord willing.

Author

  • Heidi VanderSlikke lives on a farm in Mapleton Township with her husband Jack. They share their home with a gigantic Golden Retriever named Norton, who thinks he's a lap dog. Heidi and Jack have three happily married children and seven delightful grandkids.

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