What Is Your Life Stuffed With? A New Year doesn't always result in good growth...but it can.
“Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just inform our intellect but forms our very loves. He isn’t content to simply deposit new ideas into your mind; he is after nothing less than your wants, your loves, your longings.”
― James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
There is always room for more.
I’m not talking about indulgence or stuffing ourselves with more of ourselves. Greed builds into an insatiable, exhausting drive. Always pining, never fulfilled. Always driven for more because the empty spaces get wider with each grab.
Likewise, hopelessness can gather and grow into a wave. Grief can expand so big, it can push us over. Joy is contagious. Gratitude, once it takes root, mounts into more gratitude.
Something is growing in each of us, always.
There is a deeper and wider capacity in our souls than we are aware of. Good or bad, something is filling us up. And whatever it is, it shapes us.
Consider your souls afresh, my friends, as I consider mine, too.
If greed has tricked you with its lethal whisper, “More is better, getting more will quell your anxiety, amassing more will absorb emptiness and relieve your loneliness, those who have more are happy…”
…then sit still, get alone, be quiet, and listen. Educate your desires in a different direction.
There is another voice, a truth-telling voice… “come out of the wind.” Obtaining more earthly things without the GOOD things of God will shrink the soul and quench the spirit. Our bodies and minds will be troubled. Relationships, peace, truth, healing, freedom from addiction and idolatry, beauty, hope, redemption, creation, forgiveness, creativity, and love…without these, we are hollow. The challenge for most of us is, that these GOOD things, these holy things, require a stillness of mind, body, and soul. Quiet space, openness, and waiting make up the soil for good growth. How will we connect with eternal things if we are storing up and hoarding that which is fleeting? How will we experience the presence of God if we are streaming noise into our heads non-stop?
A new year sets us up for a personal inventory check-up. What is taking up the most space in my soul? What is growing? We can be sure, that whatever creeps in or floods in, these are also seeping out. Everyone around us gets to experience our dysfunction.
Sacrificial love and active listening will always come second to our malformed desires unless we redirect.
Out the window, as I sit writing this, the snow is starting to fall. In time it will cover the sidewalk, trees, shrubs, and my well-stocked bird feeders. May the grace of God cover me like fresh snow this year. May it characterize me. May it cover and characterize you.
If hopelessness feels like the strongman, wrestling you down, forcing your arm behind you, and whispering that you are alone, lost, and broken…if toxic heaviness makes you want to escape into the shallows, the stronger arm of God can beat him back. May the light of His countenance grow, pushing hopelessness out, warming you with his resurrection hope. Choose to sit in the quiet of his faithfulness. Meditate on it. Initially, it may feel like a wrestling match. But let your desire for Him grow as you choose him. Because it will. And may I add, be patient, God isn’t Amazon; he is slow. When you begin the process of choosing a new and better growth, it will be hard at first.
C.S. Lewis said it best:
“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”
Step out into a bigger story, the story that God proclaims in the beauty all around you. David got it when he sang the words of Psalm 19…
The Heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the works of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
May we grow more full and free in Him this year. And may those around us experience the fullness of Him spill out onto them.