This year I am starting something new every Monday morning - sharing thoughts from God's Word or a devotional, with hope that it will encourage and grow us deeper into our walk with the Lord.
Today I was impressed to share a short personal testimony of how God can sharpen our character by revealing things we may not see in ourselves until His mirror is placed before us.
“We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Many people will write about their ‘word for the year’ and in the past I have done that a few times, but in the last few years God has given me more of an instructive life-lesson to pursue each January, and by His grace those lessons have led me through valleys and up the mountainside with each passing month.
This year His still small voice came to me in the deep darkness of a sleepless late December night, “Jennifer, stop striving”, and as my old Pop would say, He hit the nail on the head. Friends, when God puts a mirror before you, and shows you what He sees in your life that needs to change, you really want to take notice, and ask for the Holy Spirit to deepen your own awareness of those corrections and how to bring them about. Ask for His guiding hand to lead you day by day through the months ahead until you have shaken free of those chains which bound you for too long, the chains you felt, yet did not know, were there by your own making.
I was reading My Utmost For His Highest this morning (January 23rd) and found this to be another of the Holy Spirit's lessons with regards to the Lord’s directive to stop striving…
“The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things (my striving) obscures our concentration on God…never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.”
I can tell you that this will be a life changing year for me, just as the years before have been, and already three weeks in, His instruction resonates repeatedly as I go about my tasks, almost pulling me back time and again. Slowing down, not just in mind, but in all that I do; for example - no longer rushing to chop all those vegetables as quickly as possible so I can fit more tasks into the day. In fact, the Father has reminded me of a lovely homeschooling mum whom I gave the nickname of "tomato lady" to make His point clearer.
When I first met Caroline, a minister's wife, the thing which stood out that day was how slowly she cut the tomatoes. In 2003 our family had moved to a new town, and once we'd connected with the local homeschool group, Caroline invited us to lunch. When the children and I arrived, all the kids went off to play and Caroline made us both a cup of tea. She pulled a bar stool up to the kitchen bench for me to sit while she went ahead and prepared the lunch. Over the next hour I watched her slice, mix, fold, pour, wash, simmer and bake...slowly, intentionally, the whole time consciously lifting her eyes to look at mine as she spoke, pausing from her meal-making tasks, unhurried and calm. That first lunch with her was twenty years ago and yet today, so clear in my memory, it could have been yesterday. Even the setting of the table, the meal itself, the conversation, the clean up...all unhurried. During the two years we lived in that town and fellowshipped with Caroline, her husband and children, never once did I see her flustered or rushed. She was always open to the Lord's lead in her day to day life, never lazy, assured that consistently doing one task at a time, and not rushing to or being distracted by another, would be what He required of her each day. Consistent, faithful, trusting in His example, that was Caroline.
Revisiting those years, pondering the many memories and their significance to my need to "stop striving" - they are lessons from long ago which the Lord is bringing forth this year that I should learn from and gather in with other lessons and corrections He will be teaching me.
From experience I know that lessons from more recent years have already borne good fruit, the kind that doesn't leave you but becomes a very real part of your character...
Back in 2019, the Lord told me to "Use what you already have", and now, four years later, His words still echo in my mind at least once a day. That lesson completely changed my life, and is still changing it.
In 2022, His lesson was to "Be content with what you have", and I think over the past decade this has been the most profound change made in any year, a change which, once again, I am reminded of each day.
Is there a life-lesson God has you addressing this year? I am praying we all find our lives more deeply hidden in Christ through 2023, that the change will be noticeable to others, and that when God places a character-mirror before us again in December, we will feel His pleasure because the evidence will be obvious.
Bless you heaps!