2016: The Year of Burning Hearts
First off, let me start this blog right: Happy New Year! I pray it’s your best one yet.
Whenever a new year approaches, I get super excited — I think most people do — and begin thinking about the possibilities at hand. So, when this year was approaching, my excitement was no different than usual.
My excitement entailed me on one of the last few days left in 2015 taking a moment out of my schedule and asking God what He wanted me to do differently in 2016. After all, a new year was on its way and with a new year I typically expect some kind of “new change” or “new thing” to come about.
Sometimes this is good thinking… sometimes not so good. But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask God what he was expecting of me.
So, I went ahead and did it.
I asked the question.
“God, what do you expect of me in 2016?"
I’m not going to lie, when I asked God this question, I was scared. For what felt like two seconds, I forgot His character and found myself worried He was going to have me doing something I didn’t like to do.
You know, like forsaking my heart’s desires that He’s placed inside of me and doing something completely out of the ordinary… like moving to a forest in a 3rd world country or becoming a Girl Scout again. Nooooooo.
Hey, that could be the dream of someone else… but right now, my heart is just not there.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes He calls us to set aside our heart’s desires for a season, but his nature is not that of a cruel being. I know we all have to deal with hard days, but for the most part I have never not enjoyed myself (and God) while walking in His will, as well as obeying His call. He’s proven His nature to me.
He’s a lover. He’s a giver. He’s a good God with great plans for his kids. (Jeremiah 1:5)
So, I admit that my fear that came attached to the question I was asking God was a bit silly and filled with a bit of distrust. But, hey- I’m just being honest… I’m human too.
Anyway, back to the question at hand: when I asked God what he expected from me in 2016, I believe He spoke to me 2 phrases of instruction this year:
(1) Enjoy yourself again
(2) Have fun
What the heck?
When I heard these answers in my heart, I was like, "Ok God… let’s start again: 'What do you expect from me in 2016?’"
His answer didn’t change.
In fact, he added to it and brought to my mind that: wherever pure (righteous) enjoyment and freedom are, so is He. He loves when His kids enjoy Him and have fun with what He’s given them. In fact, it’s written many times throughout the scriptures. You can see for yourself:
He tells us to delight in Him —
Take delight (great pleasure, joy) in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4
He tells us that he supplies us with things to enjoy —
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. - 1 Timothy 6:17
Can’t argue with that.
So there I had it. God’s instructions to me for 2016. No big burden or crazy ministry blueprint, just instructions to shift the way I see Him and everything in my life.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I get so consumed with the dreams God has put in my heart that I forget how good He has been and is being right now. I can also be quick to forget that everything in my life (including the set backs and crazy pets) is a true blessing and that if it weren’t for Him I wouldn’t be where I am.
Deep down inside, I know He is good… but sometimes my attitude or my facial expressions don’t get the memo. It’s like my heart knows it, but has yet to tell my brain that controls my face to “turn that frown upside down”.
Get my drift?
Sometimes we let the circumstances, trials and mundane tasks of our lives steal the fun and joy that is available to us EVERY DAY as we pursue God and what He has put before us.
It happens so quickly sometimes that we can end up walking in our dreams we asked for years ago… but still be COMPLETELY unhappy and ungrateful.
Can you relate?
What a bummer for God to see His kids walking in or with what they wanted… but letting the weight of the world steal the joy and fun that belongs to them.
For that, I apologize to Him and am ready to make a change this year. Call it a resolution or whatever you want… but it has to happen.
Here it goes. And if you’re up for it, I’d like to ask you to join me:
In 2016, I want to encourage you to join me in enjoying God, as well as all He has given us.
I want to also encourage you to join me in being full of thankfulness and excitement again.
Most of all, I want to encourage you to join me in living with a “burning heart” this year.
Just in case you don’t know, a burning heart looks just like it sounds — it’s when the core of who we are is consumed with extreme fire… with extreme joy and excitement… extreme love!
I believe that this is God’s will for His people this year… and for the many years to come. It’s not a new concept. In fact, you can see it in the bible —
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” - Luke 24:32 (emphasis added by me)
Here you have it. The above reference is a good picture of how our lives can often be.
See, the disciples were walking with Jesus after He had risen from the grave, yet didn’t recognize Him as they were walking and talking with Him. They were so close to Him and loved Him with all they were, yet didn’t recognize Him in the simple encounter they were having.
Despite them not recognizing Him when He was with them in such simple and everyday setting, they did realize something was different about their encounter: their hearts were burning while they were with Him.
We might not always “see” Jesus working in our lives, but that doesn’t mean our hearts can't be burning within us… that we can’t enjoy Him and what He’s given us at this point in our lives.
With that, I’m asking myself some questions this year. Feel free to ask them to yourself as well —
What can I do to cultivate a burning heart for God and what He’s given me this year? How can I truly enjoy my life and have fun again?
For me, it’s time to simplify and focus on the few tasks that are important to me this year. It’s easy to not say “no” and end up doing more than I bargained for. This year “no” is going to become one of my favorite words. ;)
What does it look like for you to cultivate a burning heart?
How can you enjoy your life and have fun again?
I’d love to hear your answer in the comments below.
With that — let’s burn bright in 2016.
I love you,