Monday, October 3, 2011

01.17.11 A Word (or Warning?) for 2011

For the first nine years that I followed Jesus, I received a surprising, life-changing event each autumn.  Marriage, jobs, international travel, church-planting, giving birth, facing death (my father and both grandfathers, in different years, died during this time of year) - by springtime, I was eagerly anticipating what God would do in the coming months.  The fall became my favorite time of year, because I expected God to show up in a big way.

But in my tenth year with Christ, I was a little disappointed. Our family endured many changes that year but nothing exceptionally grand happened come fall.  I still felt close to God but I remember wondering if he had permanently ceased his autumnal gift-giving.  

If you've been following my blog, you know that 2010 - my eleventh year of walking with Jesus - was inspirational (even without any hoopla last fall).  The Holy Spirit was hard at work in my heart all year, slowly changing me into a better wife, a joyful mother, an intentional friend, and a grateful worshipper.  The events of my entire last year laid the groundwork for its closing month.  Just after Thanksgiving, I felt God urging me to make some choices that not only resulted in blessing that December but have also been expanded into this new year.

Last week, a variety of sources came together to convince me that God is giving me a "word" for 2011.  A theme, if you will.  And - it's kind of scary.  I am a trial-by-fire type of gal, and, up until last year, I would definitely say that my major growth spurts in faith have come as a result of intense, unexpected circumstances.  I like it that way.  Not knowing what's coming forces me to respond in the moment, and, by grace, the answer must always be, "help me, Lord!"  So feeling the Spirit impress a word on my heart, a vision for this year - it sort of feels like a warning.  Or - a choice.  Like he's saying, "Nicole, this is what I have planned for you in 2011 - are you willing to trust me in this or will you make your own (far inferior) plans?"

The word is DEATH*

Yes, I think God is telling me to die in 2011.

As a Christian, death is a common theme.  For I have died and my life is now hidden with Christ in God.  We all know that if I wish to come after Christ, then I must take up my cross and follow him.  And I've written about my own obsession with death before.  But I've never quite meditated on this subject the way that I am feeling led to now.  In the 17 days of January, 2011, I have felt the consistent whisper of heaven, teaching me about this truth, guiding me to act in ways that make it real, and suggesting even bigger choices in the months ahead.  I am hopeful that, come January 2012, I will have a year of death-to-self experience to relate to you.
  • DEATH to my plans
  • DEATH to my will
  • DEATH to my desires
  • DEATH to being held captive by sin
  • DEATH to worldly cares
  • DEATH to my self   
so that I may have True Life in Jesus.

Death to self is never without pain but when God has done his work - and I have yielded and trusted - there is resurrection power and glory.  ~ Ronnie W. Floyd

* God often uses real-life examples to illustrate a spiritual truth, and the passing of our 4-year-old dog last Monday did not escape my notice once I, later in the week, realized that Death was to be part of my life this year.

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