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feeling the weight of it all--a new year's resolution

Questions are haunting. They beg answers that are not always easy, they expose a reality that is not always comfortable, and they are usually asked in times of uncertainty. I spent the majority of my high school and college years as an aspiring journalist, learning how to become a good "question asker". I suppose my personality always lent itself towards this field, as I have often been a person with a lot to say on many a subject, but rarely the discipline to direct the questions back to my own life. 

And that's where the importance of accountability comes in. Even the most self-aware people lack the ability to confront themselves with their own questions, thereby often revealing inconsistencies about how one lives compared to what one says. Writing in a public medium, such as a blog, is one (rather impersonal...but still legitimate when used appropriately) way to hold myself to the standards I challenge others with.

But this post isn't on the importance of writing or blogging or even accountability. Lately, I have been in what can only be described as a state of mourning for the world around me. Sure, it's Christmastime, so there's lots of joyful things to be thankful for! But there is something deep within my soul that is not at rest. I suppose that's what the whole chapter of Romans 8 is about. When you really believe everything that it says in there--that we who are in Christ already have victory over death, the Spirit of God lives in us--those words have power. Despite any hardships I may have faced (or will come in the future), I have no reason to doubt that God is FOR me. Amazing.

But who is proclaiming these words of God as truth to those who need it? Who is spending time meditating in the presence of God to hear His voice? And who is seeking to know the Word of God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength?

Where is the voice of God in our culture?

I remember the first sermon I ever heard Bill Hybels preach at Willowcreek in 2000. He talked about how to discern the voice of God, and gave 3 specific ways to hear His truth. The first was through the Bible, God's Word. The second, through daily quiet time spent in prayer and listening. And the third, through wise and godly counsel from people who sought God through His Word and prayer. The "voice of God" can be a rather mysterious concept, so as a young Christian, this made sense to me. 

But it's occurred to me that Christians aren't doing this in our culture. This blog by Pastor Mark Driscoll speaks of the addiction to noise that all of us living in this technology driven age suffer from. It'd be rare to find someone that disagrees. And as a good friend pointed out last weekend, if Christians were to sit in a circle as though they were in an "AA" meeting, how many of them would begin with the statement, "Hi, my name is ____. I've been a Christian for 10+ years, but I still struggle with reading my Bible every day."

During Christmastime, we are reminded that God is Emmanuel--that He has been, and will always be with us. And this truth separates us from most other worldviews--that God would come in human form to live among us, and then invite us into relationship with Him. Nothing is more beautiful. 

But today, as I sit alone in the stillness of a moment with God, I know He is there; yet I have trouble hearing his voice. And as I look at the world around me, I see a place that has made it perfectly clear that there is no room for the truth of God, no time to seek His Word, and no purpose in silence. My mourning comes from a sense of urgency to wake up to this harsh reality.

My responsibility to declare the Word of God has never been greater. To do this, I must commit to seeking the Lord--not only in community and fellowship, but in silence and in solitude--by humbly asking to be given truth and courage in the midst of a culture that is often void of the voice of God. 

To start the new year out right, I've challenged myself to spend 4 hours (which would be half of my work day if it wasn't a holiday) on New Year's Day in solitude. From that point, I am going to ask the Lord what He would have me commit to Him on a weekly basis as a true Sabbath, departing from the influence of the world for the purpose of hearing from my God. 

To my readers, I challenge you to spend AT LEAST one hour in silence on January 1st. And as always, if you decide to take my challenge, I'd love to hear about it. We are not to despair over our fallen world, but rather to take hope in the future glory. Be encouraged by seeking the Lord together and celebrating the blessing of Emmanuel, God with us.

Reader Comments (4)

Wow. I am encouraged, inspired, and admonished in reading this post. Please feel free to ask me about this when you see me! I want to do the one hour minimum on Jan 1 and I KNOW I need to be MUCH more intentional in spending time in the Word... I don't think I know anyone who wouldn't say the same thing!

Dec 28, 2008 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

It has been my experience that any New Year's resolution must be split up into 365 parts, because 365 small goals are easier to accomplish than 1 huge one. Once you get used to having your time with God every single day, you won't be able to start your day without it. I like to journal about what I read and what God tells me, because I can't focus if I don't write my prayers down. I'm so easily distracted. I've also found that God has started speaking to me in totally different ways since I started memorizing scripture every night before I go to bed. I know what you mean about Romans 8. That's my favorite chapter I memorized this last year. I'll be praying for you to stay strong in your committment to get in the Word every day. Let me know how it goes, k? And thanks for being honest. We all need to be a little more honest.

Dec 31, 2008 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Absolutely thoughtful & profound! I'm in...at least ONE HOUR tomorrow. It's the least I should do and of course, so much more. Thanks for your isnspiring & wise words. Encouragement, too!

Dec 31, 2008 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

What a good and encouraging challenge for us all.

Jan 3, 2009 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMom

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