Starting the New Year off Right

I just did something revolutionary and counter-cultural. I set my laptop aside, put my jacket and slippers on, heated up my now-room temperature mug of tea and stepped outside. I sat on my covered patio for a few minutes and stared at the buckets and buckets of water God’s pouring on this Middle Tennessee New Year. I closed my eyes and listened to the music of the rain. I sat still and silent.

And I rested.

It’s the first week of the new year and I’m already a week behind on work because I’ve been sick over the holidays. There’s a Christmas tree glowing at me to come down, blog posts to write, SoulShapers to record, a suitcase to unpack, and laundry to do. On top of that, I did none of the year-end things I always do between Christmas and New Year. I desperately need to get started on it all.

But, instead, I’m resting.

Maybe you want to kickstart your business this year. Maybe you need to get a handle on your weight, your finances, or your temper. Maybe you want to find a new hobby, start an exercise regime, or spend consistent time with God (hey, this one’s easy, go sign up for SoulShapers and I can help you knock that one out of the park). Whatever’s pressing on you this January, the messages you’re hearing from our culture are:

You can do anything you put your mind to!
Set a goal and write it down!
Create a plan of attack!
Get a 90-day planner and track your progress!
Hustle, hustle, hustle!

Those messages aren’t all bad. Goals, tracking, planning, and hustle can be healthy, in the right context. At the right time. With the right motivation. In the right direction.

But, a Christian careening into January with one hand on the wheel, clutching a life plan in the other is a classic case of putting the cart in front of the horse. Or, since I started with the car analogy, it’s throwing all your horsepower around a racetrack with other cars, but not really getting anywhere. SMART goals, planning, and hustle are worthless if God’s not in them.

Here’s what comes first: Pray. Seek. Listen. Rest. Wait. Obey. Worship.

We rest when we’re done with our work. When we’re exhausted and at the end of our rope. When we have to. When we’re sidelined because we’re sick, out of steam, broken, or burned out.

Do you remember what day of the week God made man? It was the sixth day. What did God do next? He rested. He created and then rested. A rhythm of work and rest. We usually (rightly) learn lessons from that about sabbath rest and rhythms of rest. Let’s look at it slightly differently today. Let’s look at it from Adam and Eve’s perspective. They were created on day 6. Their first full day on earth was day 7, a day of rest, a Sabbath. Then they got on with life.

What if you rested before you hustled? What if you work from the overflow of rest, instead of recuperating from exhaustion in order to hit it again? What if you began this year in a practice of restful expectancy instead of urgent activity?

How would that change your perspective? How would that make it easier to hear God’s plan for your year? How would that prepare your heart for God to move in your life this year?

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