Happy New Year! I don’t get tired of hearing or saying this. Why? Because it serves as a reminder of newness, of hope, of dreams being manifested and visions coming into reality. It presents as an opportunity for a do-over and who doesn’t appreciate that?! I am not one for setting resolutions, but I do pause, create a visual representation of my aspirations and boldly move where my spirit has not gone before. Last year, a few of my representations involved running a marathon (check), spending time in my war room (half check), embracing my natural hair (check), and saying no (three-quarters check). This year I desire to continue on this journey of a healthier me. For example, in December 2016, I had $1300 remaining on my healthcare card. During 2016, I spent less time sick, and subsequently, less time going to the doctor and filling prescriptions. Praise the Lord! I did a little retail therapy on glasses so as not to “loose” my money! In my quest for a healthier me, I am diversifying my workouts, and adding boxing and cross fit training. One week in, and my muscles (or whatever they shall be called until they are purposeful) are screaming STOP!!!! Secondly, I intend to finish my third book. Stay tuned! I’m carrying over my prayer lifestyle, with an intent to have a full check instead of a half one. Finally, I am minimizing my response to negativity in my life. I wish I could remove myself from it completely, but realistically, that is not always possible. I’ll explain more in the paragraphs to come. Overall, I’m a visual learner, and I seek patterns and meaning in that manner. As I focused on the 1&7 in “2017” I realized that everything I hope for, everything you hope for will require “1” you, for whatever “it” is to be completed, which is the representation of “7” in biblical meaningfulness. Further, God is declaring quite loudly essentially, that “YOU ARE THE ONE TO GET IT #DONE.”
We are quick to quote Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” While it is wonderful to remind God of his Word in our prayers and in our declarations, what will it take for us to remind ourselves? If God has in fact created a path for us to reach our expected end, we must commit ourselves to walking the path, and for some of us, be willing to search for the path. Sometimes our searching presents itself through difficulty in trials. Our immediate response might entail speaking to the enemy about his trickery as opposed to declaring to God about his triumph. Let us not forget that in our pursuit of our destiny we are confronted with trouble, and yet God has empowered and endowed us with what we need to overcome. The “17” requires us to recognize, acknowledge and assume what we possess. Certainly challenge will emerge, but if we maintain our desired state we can continue moving toward that desired place. Our mindset must be healthier. We must view obstacles as just that, not hindering us from where we desire, but strengthening us for when we get there. Talk with anyone who has achieved something and they will tell you that failure was an essential ingredient. Amidst the pain, we must keep moving, which is why I’ll be back in that cross fit, weight lifting, boxing, class come Wednesday…weather permitting.
The book I’m writing is about work. As the new year begins, there is talk of finding a new job or starting a business. Hooray for you! Don’t forget to bring God along for the ride and let us not forget that we bring us to the workplace. Do we carry the remnants of the sermon that we believe was for “them” or the portions that we know were customized for us? I am striving to extend more grace, jump to less conclusions and breathe before I burst. I wondered why the book wasn’t completed sooner. However, it was because I’d not experienced enough of what I was writing about. God needs clear depictions of his love in our places and spaces of work – not just his unsubstantiated judgement. What would our best selves look like in our workplace? Would it reflect being perpetually late, making excuses, ignoring others, and engaging in “self care” while harming those around us? Work is critical. The Word of God says, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” (II Thessalonians 3:10). How might we do more than “show up” in the 17? Should we begin to consider our own actions? Luke 9:23 reads, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” To deny ourselves is simply to say “No” to us and “Yes” to God. We can only know the difference if we are in relationship with him, and not just when we desire promotion and recognition.
Relationship with God is essential. As I amp up my “war room,” I realize the importance of being intentional about spending time with God. I did run well, but hinderances came in the form of saying “Yes” to the prayer requests of others and less to my own. See, here’s how I get tripped up. I’ve gotten pretty good about saying “no” to many things, but I have difficult to saying “no” to the things of God. That means that my time to assist with Godly endeavors carries me away from simply spending a little more time in my “war room” with God. I recall hearing this for years from women who I considered more seasoned. I couldn’t imagine that actually happening, but after 2016, I completely get it. I’m seeking balance and more importantly seeking God before a “Yes!” James 1:5 affirms, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” There is space in between the ask and the response. That space for me must be seeking God and hearing his voice before I put myself into something by which I am either ill-equipped or overextended. In the “17,” consider this, our “no” may be the “yes” that someone else is praying for! When we forfeit the invitation, someone else is positioned to accept. We serve a God a prayer answering God! I dare not be the obstacle to someone else’s blessing!
In the “17” I cannot always take my ball and go home when things are not as I would like. We cannot escape negative people; for that matter, let me go ahead in my quest for full transparency and admit that I’m often the membership chair. What if God departed when I express negativity? It would be a lonely journey to say the least. Nine days in and the Lord has allowed individuals who present negativity in my life to set up what feels like a circus tent in my backyard! I can’t control them, but I can control my response. This scripture knocked me off my feet! I Peter 2:15 states, “For it is by God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” Wow! We should seek to engage in good anyway, but here is an added benefit, silencing the negativity! Glory to the Lamb!
The 17 will require you (1) to get to your completion (7)! If you haven’t determined what you desire to reflect as you look back on December 31st, make a plan today. Share your intentions! I’d love to read them. May we listen to the voice of God! Have you ever considered that God has intentions of us? What does his list look like? To what extent do we play a role and responsibility? Perhaps he desires for someone on our job to get saved. Perhaps he desires a ministry for hurting men to be created. Maybe he desires for a child to learn to read or a senior citizen who has no family to experience joy. What if he’s called us to those completions? We are his extensions in the earth, not only for our personal dreams, but for his desires as well. Whatever we hope the 17 to have in store, let us go with God! That mantra will certainly ensure that we travel well and get there in tact. Happy 2017!