“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
1 John 5:3
A new year.
There’s something hopeful about that, isn’t there?
It hasn’t happened yet. It’s fresh. It has the feel of second chances; of wiping a slate clean; of turning over a new leaf. Starting over. There it sits, bursting with potential.
Or maybe you’re approaching the new year with dread. Maybe it stirs anxiety, reminding you of failed resolutions and unmet goals. Perhaps you have no reason to think this year could be any better than the last.
If I could sit across from you and look into your tired and perhaps doubtful eyes, I would tell you: I know beyond knowledge that there is deep and abundant hope for 2019. For you. But not because of who you are— because of Who our God is.
His blueprints for life, discipleship, marriage, and motherhood are best because they are perfect. The One Who created us knows best how we operate.
We must only abide in the Vine— stay connected to Him. Trust, and obey.
So this new year I want to offer you that encouragement: there is every reason to hope.
I also want to offer a challenge: let us begin this year by deeply, honestly examining our hearts.
When we as believers discuss Biblical womanhood, we often go around and around in conversation, as though these matters were up to us. As though they actually have to do with our thoughts and opinions, and are to be carefully hashed out by us.
When anyone points out a passage which instructs us how to live— regarding anything, really: marriage, motherhood, discipleship— what is our response?
“Well I think…”
“But this theologian says…”
“That would drive people away from hearing the Gospel. We shouldn’t look so different from the world.”
“It just doesn’t work for me/my family because…”
“Yeahh, I had a friend who parented that way, but her kids walked away from God, so.”
“Legalistic churches do that, so we shouldn’t do it, otherwise people might get the wrong idea.”
What’s so glaringly and grievously missing from all of this debate and defensiveness is the one and only question that truly matters:
“What does God actually say?”
It comes down to that question.
If God says it, we must believe it. We will fail to live it out perfectly— but we can always choose to embrace it as wise and good, and acknowledge that it is right.
Maybe your track record from last year has overwhelmingly been one of disobedience toward God, stubbornness with your husband, yelling at your children, gossiping with your friends. What’s certain is that not one of us has related rightly at all times to the people in our lives. But I’m asking you to ask yourself— performance aside— “Do I want what God wants?”
In other words, do you deeply desire to please the Lord and wholly believe His Word… but you still sin because in this life we struggle to walk in the Spirit and live out who we are?
Or is the real problem that you don’t honestly embrace what God says… don’t entirely trust His Word… have problems with some of His design, and feel uncomfortable with certain words or cringe at certain teachings? Maybe, you just plain don’t like some of it.
Maybe you blame personal dislikes, bad experiences, deep pain, or hypocritical Christians.
Except… God foresaw all of that when He inspired the writing of Scripture. He did not fail to see you. Did not overlook you, nor fail to include an exception clause for you.
Have you written God a blank check? Have you said, “Whatever You ask of me, whether I understand now or not, I know and trust that You know best. Lord, I give You all that I am! You are not only my Savior and the Lover of my soul, but the Lord and King of my life, and all authority belongs to You! I choose to believe You!”?
It begins with the heart. That’s not to parrot the common mantra that our behavior doesn’t matter so long as our heart is right— because truthfully, a right heart will manifest itself in more obedient behavior. Rather, it’s to say that getting out hearts right toward God is the first step. Only then can we accept His commands and admonitions as good and loving.
So that’s what I’m challenging us all to do at the outset of this year, and at the beginning of this blog. (Myself included, of course.) An honest look at our hearts, in the quiet, alone with God. When you open your Bible, do you surrender control and forget your preexisting notions, taking a backseat and allowing it to inform you of truth? Or are you presumptuous, using bits and pieces as comfort and encouragement, but also thinking things like, “Well it can’t mean that…”? Would you honestly describe your heart toward God and His Word as teachable, humble, surrendered, and willing to change? Or more controlling, proud, and sure of your own wisdom?
Do you have a bit of rebel in you? Good! Use it by digging in your heels against the world, then… but not against God.
And in closing, a common saying: “Failure is not fatal, and success is not final.”
Our successes of years past do not lessen the need to grow, change, and experience sanctification— and to rely solely on the Vine for that growth.
Our failures of years past do not disqualify us from coming to the Lord with a heart that longs to please Him— or asking Him for one that does.
Let us be women with soft hearts, on fire for the Lord, returning to Him.