I know I’m coming late to the new year trend of declaring resolutions, a “word” for the year, or really anything that we desire to write differently in the blank space that is 2018. But, maybe my tardiness is just perfect timing for you to read this and feel renewed in your own on-time declarations.
I spent January having multiple conversations with the Lord about this very topic. Asking what He wanted me to pursue for my next area of growth or new step of obedience. I dreamed and journaled plans about a few different and exciting areas that He was possibly calling me toward. I was hoping for a BIG year. Something new, something different, something exciting!
Yet, interestingly enough, every time that I’d pause to listen for His answer, my mind would come back around to areas in my own life that were a constant battle for self-discipline. To my chagrin, these areas were not “new” or “exciting” revelations to me, but things I have struggled with at times during my adult life, rarely experiencing lasting freedom. So, it was quite natural to respond back to the Lord with a, “Yeah, I hear you, Lord, I’ve got to work on that sometime. But, back to my question: what’s our focus this year? Where are you taking me?” And to my frustration it would then go quiet.
This went on for most of January. I’d ask, He’d answer, I wouldn’t like the answer and it would go quiet. All the while my frustration was building at my lack of vision with a simultaneous increase in anxiety over habitual areas of defeat, mildly managed but mostly unchecked. It was affecting my studying, praying, writing and my peace.
Finally, on a walk this past week, the Holy Spirit gave me some clarity. He revealed to my understanding that the growth I was hoping for, the desire to move into new areas of my calling…those things we had dreamed and planned together, was only going to come through an intense battle. And those areas, the ones I had long coddled and left unattended until they became a master over me…yeah, they had to be the first to go.
You can imagine how at that point my heart rate increased and my pulse quickened, dread pooling in my stomach. These were my comforts, my go-to enjoyments. And while not blatantly sinful, were greatly hampering my growth. I moved my walk into a run to match my anxiety. I knew Jesus was issuing me a challenge:
“Darci, how bad do you want me?”
“How bad do you want to experience the plans that I have for you?”
“Are you willing to give up whatever I ask? Or are you only willing to go so far with me as long as you are still comfortable?”
“Are you willing to die to yourself, to kill off the things you think you need, so that I CAN LIVE THROUGH YOU?”
Me: Panting, sweating, minutes go by. Step after step…counting the cost, feeling the weight of this decision. Finally, in surrender, “I want you, Lord. Whatever it looks like, whatever it costs, I want you. Help me to want you more than anything else.”
I knew in that moment I was tired of sabotaging my own spiritual growth. The time had come to be done wrestling and resisting. No more negotiating, living between two masters. However anxious I felt, I desperately wanted to look these strongholds in the face and say – No more! I will be free of my bondage! I will fight for my freedom!
And for the rest of that walk, the Lord brought to my mind areas of battle ground that needed to be won. Areas in which I had either previously had victory and given up, or new territory never fought over. Specifically things like: my nutrition, commitment to exercise, and television habits. As well as a lack of consistency in writing, in thanksgiving, and in scripture memory, just to name a few.
Together we devised a battle strategy: that for the next 11 months I would have an intentional fast or focus on 11 different areas of my physical, mental, or spiritual self. Each month I would face one area head-on that had either been a continuous area of defeat for me, or maybe one in which I had never found consistent discipline.
I want to be clear here that some of these areas of challenge that Jesus is calling me to are very personal to my relationship with Him, and am in no way applying as an expectation to anyone else’s walk. Part of the beauty of our individual relationships with Jesus is how he works so uniquely in each of our hearts and calls every Christ-follower to different things in different seasons.
So, this year for me…I’m going to battle. Battle against my flesh, battle against the lies and schemes of the enemy, battle for my future. One by one, I’m laying down the weights that are holding me back, and picking up my freedom.
Listen friend, I have no idea what this next year holds for either of us. I asked God for something new and exciting, and although it’s not at all what I expected, I believe He delivered. None of this was my intention on January 1st, but since my “walk of surrender” earlier this week, the anxiety is fading and I’m starting to feel an excitement. Without a doubt, I’m going to need accountability, and even though the vulnerability is scary, it feels right that this space can serve that purpose. It’s not going to be easy. I’m going to mess up. But you better believe I am going to fight!
First Challenge: Battle against the dominion of television
My first challenge (heart beating fast) for the month of February is going to be a fast from television in all its shapes and mediums. (Super Bowl exception) My plan is to dedicate a post at the conclusion of each month’s challenge to let you know how it went and what I learned in the battle. My sincere hope as you read this is not that you’ll adopt my specific challenge (unless you need it too!), but that you’ll be prompted to give the Spirit some space to speak to you about YOU. Only you and He know your own areas of struggle. The areas you brush past quickly in your mind because they’re hard battles to fight. Maybe it’s time for you too.
Maybe 2018 is your year to battle and take back your freedom so the only thing that has dominion over you is JESUS. That’s my prayer for you and for me! More Jesus and more freedom! It’s only a few days into February and I’m quickly realizing that the most encouraging thing to know while going into the Lord’s battle is that you’re not going alone.
If you decide to join me in fighting for any area of your physical, mental, or spiritual health this year, I hope you’ll comment or message me so I can pray specifically for you. Just maybe, God will build a community of fierce warriors right here. May God go with us as we fight!