This isn't really what I had planned on writing today and that is incredibly appropriate.
What I planned on writing about was my plan for the New Year; a plan inspired by a reader comment in this
inspiring post on resolutions from Conversion Diary. The idea is quite clever, actually - working on one resolution per month, and thus tackling big changes in small, manageable steps. I had sketched my whole plan out month by month - one month devoted to making a habit out of daily exercise, another month committed to cutting back on sugar, perhaps a month set apart to learning how to actually use the sewing machine that has sat idle for eight years in our home.
But then the Lord spun me around when I read Ann's thoughts on How to Set Out into the New Year. (He does that a lot - spins me around with something Ann writes.) She beautifully illustrates how we set out with the best of intentions to "tramp good tracks" through the fresh, possibility-laden snow that has fallen across the new year. "You simply must try harder." Right? But then
The muddied mess of imprints over the last year attest to it: trying harder only results in harder trials. Self-striving nurtures self-hatred. Toiling in the flesh produces foiling in the soul.
Self-striving resulting in self-hatred. Don't I know it? A habitual resolution maker who has fizzled out of resolute resolve within weeks of crafting the list of gallant intentions knows with intimate familiarity the self-loathing that predictably steps in to fill the void left behind when self-discipline slinks away.
My thoughts turned to Brennen Manning's Ruthless Trust and how often he speaks to the idea that when we possess in the very core of our beings an unflinching trust in our Father God and the magnificence of His love lived out in the person of Jesus Christ that we are left with the knowing that all there is for us to do is surrender.
Manning makes it clear that not even the act of surrendering is something we can do on our own. To have the desire, the willingness, and the ability to live in humble submission before Him, we must throw our entire beings recklessly at His feet. (It's heady stuff, all of this, and I feel entirely inept in trying to relay all that Manning explores in this stunning work.)
I learned a lot about surrender last year. My previously undiscovered unbelief coupled with my vehement attachment to expectations about how things should be for children of God revealed to me that surrender was an idea I had actually only flirted with but was never serious about being married to.
That brings me here, to January 1, 2009.
No more self-striving. No more trying harder. No more insistence on pursuing that which serves the kingdom of Megan.
And I certainly can't manifest that out of my own self-seeking nature. It must be a work from Him, for it is a risky, perilous proposal and I am weak and faint-of-heart.
To remind myself daily of this desire for each day this year, I'm placing this prayer on my bedside table as a prompt to start the day out limp before Him:
(From Ruthless Trust, chapter nine: Humble Confidence)
Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, without reservation and with humble confidence, for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in serving you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power, and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all of my heart, and I place all of my confidence in you, for you are my Abba.
photo courtesy ldcross