Today is January 2, 2017.
I whole-heartedly believe that great things can come in 2017. Growth. Change. Renewal. Birth. Death. Adventure. Learning. Solitude. Unity. Friendship. Discipleship. Laughter. Tears. Incandescence. Soul-fire.
But these things won’t just happen on their own or by accident; they have to be sought with intentionality. I believe that great things can and will come in 2017 because I’m praying and looking for these things, and when God puts them in my path, I’m going to hold onto them with both hands. I expect great things from Him.
I expect Him to do great things in me, in my heart, mind, and soul.
I expect Him to do great things in my family.
I expect Him to do great things in my church.
I expect Him to do great things in my town.
But I’m not just going to twiddle my thumbs for another year, waiting to see God do something. I’m not going to spectate when the calling of Christ is to participate.
Once during Jesus’ ministry, He left His disciples to go onto a mountain to pray while His disciples stayed in the boat on the sea. But while He was praying, a vicious wind drove the boat far from the shore, whipping up the waves to beat the boat. So Jesus went to them, walking on water, and the disciples were very afraid at first because they thought He was a ghost. But Jesus said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And Peter (in typical Peter fashion) shouted back, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
“Come,” Jesus said.
So Peter hauled himself out of the boat and began to walk to Jesus on the water. But then he remembered the wind, and he was afraid again. And then he began to sink. “Lord, save me!” he cried out to Jesus.
Jesus grabbed him immediately, holding him up, and said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then He and Peter got to the boat and climbed in, and the wind ceased (you can find the account in Matthew 14:22-33).
Typically, when I’ve been told this story, all the Sunday school teachers have been like, “Don’t be like Peter. He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. He paid more attention to his surroundings than he did to Jesus.”
Now, I have to say I disagree. There were twelve men in that boat, and Peter is the only one who got out of it, expecting Jesus to help him walk on water. I’d have to say I’ve spent most of my life in the boat. I’d have to say most people have spent most of their lives in the boat. I don’t think I’ve really ever gotten to the point of “don’t be like Peter” because I’ve never been enough like Peter to get out of the boat in the first place. And honestly, I’m sick of the boat.
I’m climbing out of the boat, expecting Christ to meet me, to help me, to uphold me in my devotions, in prayer, in my writing, in the way I interact with my family, in the way I spend my time, in the way I serve in church, in the way I read books, in the way I do friendships, in everything.
I have many goals and resolutions and visions for 2017, and I know I can achieve every single one if I’m with Christ. I have two main prayers for myself for this year: that the Holy Spirit will give me an unquenchable soul-fire for Him, and that through His power, I will master my mind and heart and body with self-control. All my other prayers for this year flow from these two, and I know that it’s going to be hard. And I know I’m not always going to follow Jesus like I should, but I’m thankful I’m finally getting out of the boat.
Will you pray and find God’s vision for you in 2017? Will you get out of the boat? Will you expect God to do great things, and be ready to respond to His work? What do you hope God does in you and through you this new year?
P.S. – a note on the picture at the beginning of this post: I shoved my box of matches at my dad and said, “Daddy, can you come to a dark room and strike matches so that I can take pictures of the matches?” And he did. He helped me find the right setting on the camera and struck many matches for me to take pictures of, getting some very hot fingers in the process.