Forward. This is the word I picked to be my theme in 2016. My Bible Gateway verse of the day in my email from yesterday was Ephesians 5:1-2, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Then my devotional email today, from Henri Nouwen, talked about God lighting each step of the way for His children. I am encouraged by these reminders to keep walking, moving ahead, trusting God to light my path in His time, trusting Him for each step I need to take even before I can see where that step may take me.
Yet, another good reminder for me came in the form of another daily email devotional I read from The Upper Room. Today’s message highlighted how it is good to reflect back at how God has worked in the past so that we can take courage to keep moving forward into the future. My trust that He will light my steps ahead is strengthened when I look back at how He guided me forward in the past. He is faithful to do this for us as He has promised, “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 45:2, NKJV)
Moving forward this year, my hope is to walk in “the way of love”, as spoken of in the verses from Ephesians 5 above. Only Christ at work in me through the power of the Holy Spirit can enable me to walk in love, to give myself up as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” as Christ did, a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, (as my) spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1, NRSV) I have realized more and more in this past year that I’m struggling to make sacrifices anddie to self in some areas of my life.
I find myself asking whether certain aspects of my life should be sacrificed or whether it’s just false guilt making me think I need to give them up. I’m seeking to learn to balance properly caring for myself with caring for others in my life. Are there aspects of my self-care that should be more sacrificed? Can I live without certain perceived needs for the sake of others’ needs? When does caring for the needs of others cut into taking care of myself to the degree that I must set a boundary and say “no, that can’s be sacrificed, for the good of everyone, I have to have that need met in my life”? Also, I’m learning to take the responsibility of caring for myself in all aspects of my life, depending on God only, instead of having unspoken expectations of others meeting my needs. God does use others to meet my needs, but that’s to be in His hands and not me orchestrating it or trying to “make it happen.”
So, all in all, I can’t do anything to move forward without God being at work inside of me, changing me, as well as God working outside of myself in the people and events of my life. I’m completely dependent on Him, therefore, my greatest move forward of each day is to seek Him in everything I do, everything I say, everything I hear and read and see, and in every person. Moving forward for me is about God being my greatest desire and trusting Him being my greatest action each and every day, in all the steps I take.