I’m glad 2009 is over. It was a very difficult year for me. I won’t go into all the particulars here, but as I look back now, I’d say it was a year of battle. At times during the year I found myself on the front line of an intense spiritual war in my marriage, job, family, finances, and other areas.
It was also a year of prayer. I’d consider myself a pretty decent pray-er. Yeah, there’s a lot of room for improvement, but I’ve always had a passion for prayer. But 2009 was different. Prayer was more urgent for me this past year. Like when I thought my marriage might be ending or when I thought my son was dead.
Yes, spiritual warfare became more real for me last year. My relationship with God was strong, and he enabled me to continue fighting. In fact, I often found myself asking God what he wanted me to learn or how he wanted me to grow through this. Looking back now, I see how he was refining and transforming me–for God knows what.
This morning, to start out 2010 right, I spent some time with God briefly reviewing 2009 and then looking forward to 2010. In the midst of this, I read a few posts by a couple of my favorite bloggers, and God used them to help me think about the upcoming year.
John Eldredge wrote in his New Year’s Eve post about his annual New Year’s practice of asking God for a theme for the coming year. So, following his advice, I consecrated the year to God and then asked Jesus what my theme for 2010 will be. I waited a while silently, listening for his reply. Finally, one word came into my mind: “More.” Oh no! I thought. Not more of the same… The thought of more was overwhelming to me.
Then I heard God complete his message for me, “… Jesus.” More Jesus. Yes. That makes sense. I can live with that. More Jesus means more power as the war rages on. Jesus is the Victory. The way, the truth, the life. I want more of that!
Next I read Mark Batterson’s “Evotional” blog. Several of his posts helped guide my thoughts this morning. On December 26 he wrote about challenging the status quo. We will keep doing what we’ve always done without giving it much thought if we don’t challenge it. So I made up my mind to challenge a few things I’ve allowed to become status quo in my life. Things that rob me of “More Jesus.”
On Dec. 30, Mark wrote about “Seven Margin Maxims.” I agreed that one of my biggest leadership challenges is margin. As he says, “if you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you.” I, too, need to control my calendar to have “More Jesus.”
One of Batterson’s margin maxims is to create a “stop doing list.” This reminded me of something I recently read in Joel Comiskey‘s new book, The Relational Disciple. In the first chapter, Joel describes one of the biggest obstacles to discipleship today: we are conformed to the pattern of individualism. A huge cause for individualism is what Comiskey calls “media isolation,” especially TV. I’m going to write about this in a separate blog sometime, but suffice it to say now that TV greatly effects our relationship with God and others. We unwittingly substitute communion with God and community with others for hours in front of the tube every day.
I want to create more margin for my relationship with God, family, and others by making one simple change this year for me and my family. Less TV and Internet usage, especially on those things that become substitutes, perhaps even idols, for the real thing. Less TV sitcoms where we watch other people in community, living vicariously through them. Less Facebook when it becomes a substitute for a real social life in real face-to-face community.
“More Jesus” in 2010. More communion with him. More community with others. More Real Life. What’s God got in store for you this year?