As 2019 begins, we’re all reading about how to make 2019 the best year yet, how to stick to your resolutions, why 2019 is YOUR year. It all centers on this idea that 2019 is a fresh start. A new you. A clean slate.
Except it’s not. 2018 happened. So did every year before that. It’s what’s made you who you are at this moment, and those years have even shaped your 2019 resolutions and desires for a better you because chances are your resolution is something you want to “fix” or improve about yourself. It makes sense why the new year is a great time for those resolutions and things, but if I’m honest, I’m a bit over it.
And I may be a little jaded because 2018 left me looking for more. I’ve shared before how my word for 2018 was “vision.” Vision for what my life would look like, where my career might head, even where my wife and I might live some day. But 2019 is here, and I’m still at square one. Why do I feel like God gave me this word “vision” and then did next to nothing about it? Sure, I learned lessons along the way of trusting each step in front of me instead of a long-term plan, but it’s a lot easier to write that in July when there are still four months of vision to come. And I’ve gotten small glimmers of clarity and feel like I’ve learned some things about myself and what my life will look like down the road. But all in all, it’s not what I was really hoping for, so to be really honest, I’m feeling a bit let down.
It might sound cliche to say this, but I’m more disappointed in myself than I am in God. I know God’s at work because I’ve seen Him show up consistently in my life and work behind-the-scenes for long stints only to show up right when He meant to all along. I guess I’m disappointed in myself because I prayed for vision and received what God had in mind. His plan always works the way He wants it to. But I had a different plan and different thoughts for the things I’d learn. So as I head into the thick of 2019, I’m left wondering if it’s even worth it to set high expectations again.
And as I started to ask that question and think through it, I realized I’m asking the wrong question. I don’t get to decide when and how God moves, so I don’t get to decide the expectations to place on Him. I really want to. Like really, really want to. Because if I can make God live up to my expectations, I get to be God. I get to control my outcomes and my expectations aren’t let down because I know they’ll be met. I set the course, and it’s God’s job to fall in. When I write it, it sounds insane. I know. It sounds insane because all of that is in conflict with who God actually is. God is the Creator. That includes my life and the things in it. God is the Shepherd gently nudging me back to where I need to be. God is the Beginning and the End before and after Taylor. So why do I think that I get to dictate the start point and the end point? I don’t, which is why my question of should I lower my expectations is ridiculous. I shouldn’t decide whether to lower my expectations or not. I should get rid of them all together and find out what God’s expectations are.
And if I truly want to find “vision” for my life or any other word that I could pick for a year, I’m only going to find it by first finding God.
My resolution, goal, expectation, whatever you want to call it needs to revolve around finding God. At Cross Point, our pastor, Kevin Queen, has instilled in us a mantra that goes, “Prayer isn’t the only thing we do, but it’s always the first thing.” You want to see God move in whatever way you’re hoping? Pray first.
Now I’ve heard that phrase for the better part of 18 months, but I cheated its heart. I took that as “pray first and then God will answer.” I twisted it to “pray in the first part of the year and God will come through like you want.” I misunderstood it as “pray first and then God will do what you need. Check your box, and He’ll check his.”
What I missed in all of that was that it doesn’t say God will necessarily do anything. There’s nothing about expecting Him to “hold up His end of the bargain.” We pray first. But we also fast, we also serve, we also give, we also love. But ultimately, we pray first because that’s not only when we let God hear from us, but we get to hear from God. It’s not a one-way line of communication, but as with any relationship, you both have to get to know each other before we start getting to the real stuff. The honest stuff. The life-changing stuff.
So as I head into 2019, I’m a bit less skeptical. Thank you to all of you QARA readers for letting me process through my skepticism. But ultimately, I’m less skeptical because God hasn’t changed. God’s still at work. God’s going to always be at work. I just need to get close enough to see Him work. Regardless of what expectations I have for what God’s going to reveal to me shouldn’t matter because above all, my resolution for 2019 is to seek God knowing that I’ll find Him. That’s an expectation that he always meets.