About six years ago, my husband and I made a deliberate decision to ask the Lord to “grow us up quickly.” We thought we knew what we were asking for, but didn’t realize the full extent of what we would get when we asked for it. Like the old advice, “Don’t ever pray for patience,” you can probably guess what we got: plenty of opportunities to grow up.
We have had no shortage of “growing pains” over the past six years. I would be less than candid if I told you this process had been a “barrel of laughs,” and yet, both my husband and I would agree: we would do it all over again to get the same results. There were many times, as we were going through particularly challenging times, we had an “ah-ha!” moment; we would remember that we had asked for this.
My husband grew up in the farm country of Minnesota. He spent many summers bailing hay and helping various uncles with farm-related chores. He will tell you about fences, plowing, and the animals of farm life. He will tell you that he didn’t particularly understand, and rarely appreciated, the life lessons he learned as he functioned as “free labor” to his various uncles.
Fences on a farm have a somewhat different purpose than those in my suburban up-bringing. In farm country, fences tend to keep animals in, while in suburbia, fences mostly keep neighbors out. On a farm, fences also act as a fixed point at which to focus while you plow, ensuring you have a straight row when you have finished.
My husband and I have decided that we need God to give us “fence post vision.” We want to fix our gaze on Him so that we “plow” a straight furrow to the far side of the field. We need to know that, even though we can’t see the entire field, the row that we are plowing is straight. Each row, fence post to fence post, eyes remaining fixed on the point the Holy Spirit gives us, the completed field will be full of straight furrows.
In a sense, “New Year’s resolutions” function as fence posts in the fields of our lives. Rarely though do we keep that “fence post” in view as we plow our field during the year; most of us lose sight of them after only a week or two.
Maybe the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are ours. We make them, and then intend to keep them, through our own strength and determination. I wonder what would happen if we actually asked the Lord what He would have us accomplish over the next year and then relied on Him to help us complete them.
One thing I know for certain: what He ordains, He provides the strength and ability to finish. If we walk in obedience to the path He sets before us, He is faithful to see that His Word and His Will are accomplished.
As I prayerfully consider what goals God would set before me this next year, I must keep my eyes fixed on His “fence posts.” If my past life is any indicator, there is no doubt that when I have taken my eyes off of Him, the rows of my life has become “crooked.” I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of “crooked furrows.” In fact, I am fed up with my bumbling and stumbling along with little progress in many areas of my life. The progress has been miniscule and frustrating.
It seems like my life would be so much easier if I just let God set the vision before me which He has determined is best, rely on Him to steer my course, and let His Strength see it to completion. I might actually make it to the end of the year with one of my New Year’s resolutions “crossing the finish line.”
Funny how that works.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” Philippians 3:12-15 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
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