"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes." Isaiah 54:2 (NIV)
Hard to believe it is New Year's Eve already! It seems as if the years pass by more quickly the older I get. This is also the same time that I typically start thinking about personal goals for the next year. Yes, always on my list is getting a bit more fit and eating better (that REALLY needs to be a priority this year). I have let my fitness goals go to the wayside as I prepared for the holidays and it's time to make time for it in my day.
I find that one of the greatest ways for me to feel a bit more fit is by stretching. It seems to get this tired body moving. As I continue stretching, I can see the progress as I can stretch just a little bit farther than the last time. I have to share, I'll be starting with small stretches this new year - got a way to go to "touch my toes".
One of the areas that I also need to stretch is my soul, my faith. As I think back on the last few months, I believe this is also an area I need to concentrate on - and I plan to put it at the TOP of my list!! Probably many of us walk through our days with the same routines. If you are like me, I need to put Jesus in the beginning of my day, as other things seem to float to the top as my day moves on, making it hard to find "faith" time. The question becomes, what other things are more important than Jesus? As I reflected on this, I realize it isn't those "things" that are more important, it is where I am putting those things in place of time with Jesus.
I started thinking about things that we can do to give Jesus not just my TIME, but my SOUL. Where can I make improvements in my time with Jesus. Let's take a look at a few:
- Pick up a devotion. During Christmas, I walked through a great little book I found on Christmas devotions. Short stories along with Bible verses that began my day. There are so many devotion opportunities - even ones that you can download to your phone and take with you anywhere! It's time for me to find one to END my day with - not just begin my day. How about you - maybe there is time for some devotion in your day?
- Try a Bible study. There may be opportunities at your local church for a Bible study with other parishioners. It's always nice to sit around the table and discuss different areas of the Bible. Also available are online Bible studies which provide you the opportunity to do a Bible study from the comfort of your own home in your own time. I know I always can learn more about Jesus through studying His word.
- Prayer time with friends. Prayer is an area I know I need to strengthen. I seem to "fit it in"my day versus making specific time for it. I usually talk with God on my way to work - during my commute. Yet, where I find that prayer can be so impactful is when you write down what you are praying for and watch God in action! I need to make a stretch in this area. Maybe find a friend and pray together for all the needs you are aware of. "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:20
- Immerse in worship. Sometimes, we can go to worship on Sundays as another item to check off the list. Yep, attended church - I'm good! I am sure that is NOT the way God wants us to attend worship. It can be difficult to walk into church with a clear mind. We all have so much on our minds these days. I do know that when I make an effort in this area, my connection to our Lord is so much stronger - it is strengthened. I am going to recommit to leaving my cluttered mind at the door of the sanctuary - and enter God's home with a clear mind.
- Open the Bible. I will never forget some time back when the children were smaller. I found one of my daughter's sitting on her bed one day after school, with her Bible open. I asked what she was doing. She said that she had a hard day at school and wanted to feel better. "Is there a particular verse you are reading?" I asked. She stated, "No, just reading whatever I open to makes me feel better." Isn't that the truth! Open the Bible - God takes us to where we need to go.
I know I have a great deal of stretching to do - and certainly not just physically. I want to have a closer relationship to Jesus. I want to be the Christian girl he wants me to be. I want to show him how very much I love him. So let's "lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes" by stretching ourselves. Happy New Year!
"Heavenly Father, stretching our muscles is great for us, but stretching our souls can be greater! Help us to focus on stretching ourselves to have a greater relationship with you and to share your love with others. Bring our minds to you not just in times of trouble but in daily connection - stretching towards your love. In your holy name we pray, Amen!"