I Will Follow

buenosaires1_640“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” (Proverbs 16:1-3)

It’s 2013 and we’re still alive!  The world didn’t come to an end.  The Mayans didn’t get it right.  I’m a big U2 fan, but this picture cracks me up.  Bono doesn’t have it figured out anymore than the Mayans did.  I want to be a better follower this year, but not of my favorite band.

Proverbs 16:1-3 is a great reminder for each of us on this first day of a new year.  Maybe your like me and this past year didn’t turn out quite like you expected.  For me it had some ups and downs.  I went to Haiti with Rebekah and got my worldview expanded (times infinity).  I met some amazing people from “Toth Ministries” as well as “Enter the Worship Circle.”  I spent a week in Alabama with a great worship mentor. I had the privilege of working with two outstanding interns: Spencer Eller and Jacob VanSkike. Rebekah and I went to San Diego on an all-expense paid trip to the National Worship Leader Conference.  My parents and my niece, Gillian, moved in with my family. It was a wonderful year!

I also went to two funerals this past year…for both my Grandma and my Grandpa on my mother’s side. Rebekah started a new job halfway through the year.  This was a blessing, but it was also a difficult time of transition. Her new job was full-time and we all had to adjust to what that meant. Rebekah had some health struggles which eventually led to a surgery right before Christmas. Thankfully she made it through, but it will be a long recovery. My third son, Caleb, struggled with his move to Middle School, as many kids do, and spent a large part of his year frustrated.  (My daddy’s heart broke over and over for him.) In many ways, this was an incredibly difficult year.

And we didn’t even have it that bad!

As long as I live, I will never forget where I was and what I felt as I watched the flames of the forest fire racing down the mountains. Erupting home after home and producing a cloud of smoke that looked and felt like something out of an “Armageddon” movie.

I’ll never forget waking up the morning after going with my two oldest boys to the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” and finding out that less than 60 miles away innocent people lost their lives attending the same movie premiere in a suburb of Denver.

A hurricane in New York and New Jersey that took lives and caused unfathomable damage. How many homes and small businesses were destroyed? Those families will struggle for a very long time as they slowly put the pieces of their lives back together.

A school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where innocent Kindergarten students and their brave teachers lost their lives.  This one really cut deep. I held my 3rd grade daughter a lot closer that night.

How about the plans I set out to achieve at the beginning of 2012? I said I was gonna run my second marathon but came up way short as my feet continued to get worse. (I know…I know…I gotta go see a doctor.) I thought I was going to get started on my Master’s program but ended up putting it on hold. I started reading the Bible with an intent to finish it in a year.  Bet you can’t guess how that plan turned out. I remember saying 2012 was going to be the ‘Year of Jubilee.’  But I struggled to keep my head above the water all year long!

Don’t even get me started on the inner-longings of my soul. I’ll put it this way: I can relate to Bono when he wrote “42” (of Psalm 42) and said, “How long to sing this song?”

I’ve got dreams and passions, plans and goals, hopes and longings. Will this be the year? Is God even in them? Will I have the courage to follow where HE leads and not simply where I want to go?

It’s easy to say “This is what the Lord is calling me to do this year or next.” But the real answer, the one that matters, comes from my Sovereign God. He knows my heart, my motives, my fears, my pride and my selfishness. I might be able to put a spin on things and talk a good talk to others, but at the end of the day it is God who weighs my spirit.

Nodding my head to this truth about God, and about me, is comforting.  But it is also paralyzing.

How do I know when to move forward with the dreams of my heart? What if the Lord is not in them and will not bless them? I cannot overlook Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

I will probably struggle with this all year long. But on this first day of a new year, I have hope. Maybe I can dig into this.  Maybe I will make strides in developing the kind of listening and attentive spirit I must have if I expect to ever hear from the Lord.

My prayer: “Father God, thank you for caring for, watching over, and leading me this past year. Just as I was at the start of 2012, and many times through the course of the year, may I once again be attentive and responsive to your Holy Spirit alive in me. Speak, your servant is listening.  I will follow YOU.”

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