Walking Our Faith: What snowstorms and New Year’s resolutions teach us about God (column)
This morning as I began my column, a familiar Bach suite played in the background.
I’ve listened to Yo-Yo Ma perform the Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major a thousand times, but this morning as a snowstorm silently raged outside, I bowed my head, closed my eyes and carefully listened to the beauty.
Day by day, I plead and cajole God with entreaties for this need or that disappointment. Or, as if it were a special incantation, I repeat the words of the Lord’s prayer, so familiar that the words slide over my tongue without recognition of their meaning, as if I could move God if I said just the right combination of words.
But how often do I silence myself and listen to God?
One of the most challenging verses in the Bible for me, is this: “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.” (Hebrews 11:1 Living Bible)
I suppose it is because I like to be in control that I have a difficult time “letting go and letting God.”
And because I refuse to completely surrender my hopes and dreams and fears, to trust that God’s plan is better than I can ever imagine, God continues to bring me back to this verse and this lesson. And continues to make me wait.
I want to learn to be still and experience his presence.
In this new year, I will surrender and allow myself to rest in God’s peace.
Peace as enveloping as the silent snow falling outside. Gentle, relentless, each snowflake so fragile, yet so powerful that I can hear the rumble of dynamite they use to move it.
That is the power of God’s silence during this waiting time.
So tender I don’t consciously experience it until I recognize its impression afterwards.
Then I understand the waiting was not idle, but an active refinement by God upon my heart. Slowly, gradually creating my best self.
I can be God’s apprentice during this time. But I must open my heart to his direction, rather than as I so ardently try to always do, what I know must be best.
Wait, rest, and with an open heart, I will learn to see my life from God’s big picture perspective.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
I woke on Jan. 2, with an urge to spend the day making resolutions to eat clean, learn Tai Chi (maybe if I develop balance I’ll stop falling over and breaking my wrists and elbows) and deepen my spiritual practice.
Writing out goals has always been a reflexive beginning to my new year. Yet, I feel conflicted this year.
As I ponder the why of my desire for resolutions but the hesitation to make yet another list of things, it occurs to me that I am seeking revelations this year, not resolutions.
A resolution would be that I will lose weight, again.
A revelation is that I want to enjoy a long and active life made possible by healthy choices regardless of what I weigh.
The same principle applies to seeking God, while I wait for God.
A few years ago, I bought a Bible-in-a-Year and determined to read my way through it. I did, but honestly, other than a feeling of accomplishment, it didn’t help me achieve a closer relationship with God.
This year, my revelation is that I will stop doing spiritual activities as if they are rungs on a ladder climbing toward Heaven.
Instead, I will seek God’s presence in my doing of things. As I read my Bible, as I pray, I will seek God first.
In this way, my activities become revelations, not resolutions.
With this there will be no disappointment at the impossibility of an improbable list of resolutions.
Like Saint Paul, I will embrace the new year, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
It’s not about resolutions, it’s about revelations. It’s not about waiting on God, it’s about working with God. And always drawing closer to God. Always. That’s all that matters.
Suzanne Anderson is the author of “Love in a Time of War” and other books. You can reach her at Suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com or facebook.com/suzanneelizabeths
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