Heading home after a New Year’s Eve party two weeks ago, my husband and I agreed that if 2016 had to be summed up in one word, the word would be “uncomfortable.” From beginning to end, the entire year was marked by transition and change, which wasn’t easy or pleasant most of the time.
We also agreed, however, that the same discomfort that we begged God to remove also brought us closer to Him in a way that our comfort never could. And so, one bright spot from 2016 was a closer, more vital relationship with Jesus.
Maybe one of your goals for 2017 is more of Jesus – more reading your Bible, more prayer time, a more intimate knowledge of God and His will for you. As I look back on 2016 and the growth I experienced as a disciple of Jesus, I know I want more of the same in this new year!
You’ve probably discovered by now that it’s really, really easy to say you want to spend more time with Jesus, and really, really hard to actually carry it out. If we’re not careful, we fill our days with the trivial, the urgent, and the distracting instead of focusing our eyes and hearts on Jesus. Here are some practical things you and I can do this year to make sure we do something that really matters in 2017.
Eliminate Noise – In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis says that Satan hates silence and strives to fill the world with noise in an effort to distract us from the voice of God. In my life, that noise looks like the radio, TV, and social media. I love to listen to the radio when I’m in the car by myself, but last year I made a conscious decision to pray aloud in the car instead of listening to NPR. And so every time I drive to work, pick up my son from practice, or get groceries, I spend the entire drive having a conversation with Jesus. I try not to worry about what other drivers are thinking, especially when the conversation makes me cry!
Be Intentional – I’ve learned from experience that unless I set a specific time to read and pray, it probably won’t happen. Last summer I started setting aside one day a week to fast and pray during lunchtime. I went to my room, locked the door, and literally met God before His throne. At first I felt a little guilty for leaving my kids on their own for lunch, but before long I began to look forward to those weekly meetings. I still read my Bible and prayed early in the morning, but having a longer, intentional time of praying and listening to God taught me so much about yearning after the Father.
Involve the Kids – If you’ve got little ones in the house, you may never find yourself alone in the car, and the kids probably can’t be trusted to feed themselves lunch. That’s okay. You can read the Bible together, memorize a section of Scripture, learn some old hymns, or set aside a special time to pray with your kids during the day. One year, my kids and I memorized Luke 2 together as a surprise for my grandmother. The constant repetition that the kids required helped me to meditate on the passage more than I otherwise would have. It’s important, too, to allow our kids to see us reading the Word and praying to the Father. We want our kids to know that we are serious about our faith, that they have a legacy of discipleship that they can carry on with their own families someday.
Even if 2017 turns out to be just as uncomfortable as 2016, I’m looking forward to more of Jesus – more peace, more maturity, more compassion, and more praise.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15