Happy New Year everyone. Rob here.
Like many people I finished 2022 tired. It was yet another long, weird, pandemic influenced year. 2023 looks like it’s going to be another unusual year, more influenced by war, a declining economy, political division and societal concerns around crime, climate change and mental health than a pandemic. It seems that it may be another year of angry voices and endless drama, especially with an election thrown into the mix. It will certainly be a year where soul care becomes necessary and urgent. Enriching our connection with God and his abundant loving heart will be our lifeline in 2023. Learning to silence all the other voices so that we can hear God’s voice feels like a profound invitation right now. Agree? So, what’s your next step for helping that to come about?
I started with naming the things that seemed to be creating distance between myself and God. I discovered some habits that needed to change, some attitudes that needed to change and some words that needed to change. As I named the things that created distance I also named an exchange I could make to help draw me closer to God’s heart. We are all different and our lists will be different but here are a few of my exchanges that I will seek to make in 2023.
- Less novels, more thoughtful books. Novels are fine but I’ve been reading to escape and not to grow and that never works well for me. Good, thought-provoking, spiritually hungry, honest books really help me in my journey. I’ve started this year by re-reading Rob Bell’s, What is the Bible?
- Less sugar, more fasting. My sweet tooth has given me great pleasure over the years and a high number of fillings. As I get older I need to get better at this aspect of self-care. Letting go of self-indulgence is a good spiritual discipline for me. It helps my physical health but it also helps me say yes to God and not my appetites which is nearly always a good thing.
- Less Bible apps, more Bible. I really enjoy Lectio 365 and Wild at Heart prayers but the act of opening the Bible and letting the words form into my own prayers is more lasting and powerful. So I should do that, right?
- Less apathy, more participation. When things get busy, dramatic, argumentative I tend to respond with apathy. I create distance for my heart that way. Anger is too tiring. I prefer the weary cynicism of Ecclesiastes. But it’s not good for me. I become more alive when I’m engaged and participating in reality rather than disengaging from it. I do a better job at work, become a better husband, father and friend and serve the kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of my own comfort.
- Less good intentions, more good actions. I’ve been meaning to write more blogs, get some ministry papers in, update this site, do dinner time devotions, cook more etc etc etc. You know the drill. We’ve all been there but I know that my heart grows and my God-connection grows when I do stuff, create content, speak my thoughts and reflections as well as play a greater role in the home. It’s easy to hide behind busyness, tiredness, TV, a capable and competent spouse and endless activities and distractions. But hiding our hearts is a sure way to shrink it so it’s time to do things.
I have more but my list is not the point. The point is for all of us who call ourselves people of faith to deepen our connection with God this year. Why? Because God is love and the world needs more love. How can we be vessels of God’s love if we don’t deepen our connection to God? If I can make more of a difference in this world by doing a small thing like saying no to cake and reading a good book that seems like a good exchange to me.
Grace and peace to you as you seek to grow your heart in 2023.