This is the time of year it seems like everyone in the blogosphere is wrapping up their amazing 2014 year and coming up with words or phrases or goals for next year. 2014 was a year without a slogan for me (gasp!). It was intense enough on it’s own. A good year. A year filled to the brim with adventures, people I love, house projects, and a lot of fencing. Not my best year ever but far from my worst. A year of grace.
Heading forward, my friend and I were trying to come up with our slogan for the coming year and it just came to me: “Be your best ’15.” I like it because it is vague enough to be forgiving and specific enough to be motivating. What does it actually mean to be your best? Or work toward being the best version of yourself?
For me it means finding some balance: prayer, work, relationships, fitness, mental health, entertainment, etc. It means removing things from my life that clearly do not help with being my best self. It’s actually a helpful barometer in some ways before committing to new things: “Will this project / activity / relationship / commitment / service / ministry help me be my best? And how?” If not, probably not what God is calling me to right now.
I’m not using this to get out of doing the hard things – far from it. I am confident there are going to be challenges (there are a few I can think of already), hardships, and opportunities to embrace suffering. And let’s be honest, as much as I don’t ask for those things – I know they are an invitation to accept God’s grace, to rely on his strength, and to learn radical trust in even more concrete ways. I have learned the hard way that embracing suffering truly helps me be my most genuine self. It helps me sort out who I am and who God is. He is the Savior and I desperately need him to carry me through the storm.
For years now, this has been my Scripture, and as I was pondering what this year may hold, it again came to mind:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
We all know the story continues and Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink until the Lord saves him. But the part that I always get hung up on is in this first part. Where they are terrified because of a terrible storm. And Jesus tells them not to fear because it is him. And then Peter (are you ready for this??), Peter says “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Can you imagine? Picture it for a moment. You are terrified and in the worst storm of your life. You think you’re about to die out there on the water. And you say to Jesus “Call me out of the boat to walk on water.” WHAT??? Maybe St. Peter didn’t really think that request through (I do love his impulsive moves in other passages). Call me out of the boat to walk on water in the midst of a terrifying storm. He asks Jesus to call him into the source of his fear- to walk on water (which we all know is impossible) and come to him. I am praying for that courage. To ask Jesus to call me out of the boat. To do the impossible. To grow in radical trust.
So… here we are, heading into a new year. I’ve got some house goals, some personal goals, some prayer goals going forward. But first and foremost I am relying on The One who came to save us to call me forward, call me deeper, and to use this year to help me be my very best for His glory!