The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to review the previous year, learn lessons from the past and plan to do better in the year ahead. Part of that review includes identifying what worked well and what we need to improve on. It is a unique opportunity to recalibrate and then, launch out. So it was for me. I spent the first four weeks of 2016 having a critical review of my life. It is appropriate that my first blog post in 2016 and the first on this new platform be devoted to the lessons I learnt in the process.
To all of you that I am connecting with for the first time in 2016, let me use this opportunity to welcome you to the Feet of Grace Foundation website. I pray that 2016 will be a year of divine celebrations and total restoration in every sphere of your lives.
2015 was a year of dreams come true in many spheres of my life. It was a year of many new beginnings. Several times during 2015, I felt like a seed long buried beneath the surface, now springing forth and then blossoming. It was an exhilarating joy-filled feeling. It was a year that I made striking strides in regaining my autonomy. It was a year I saw myself standing in the place of God’s calling on my life as never before. Despite the high notes in the year, as the year was coming to an end, I realized the high notes were muffled by the state of my heart. I was holding tight to a picture of “what could have been if….” in an area of my life. When we crossed over into 2016, I knew if I did not deal with the state of my heart, I would not be able to walk in the fullness of God’s purpose and plans for my life this year. Too much was at stake in 2016 for me to risk being consciously out of the will of God. I needed a heart checkup.
Let me elaborate. I entered a new season in my life in 2015. A full year before this season came on me; I began to prepare for it. I created a mental picture of what I wanted the season to look like. I began to identify how I would navigate the uncharted waters of this season. Soon I became excited about the season and began to look forward with great expectation to its arrival. But shortly before the dawn of the season, developing events in our lives necessitated a change in our plans. I was compelled to lay aside the picture I had painted for the season. My vision and dreams of the season had to be on hold. I was disappointed. “This was not what I wanted and prepared for” I cried. But to many around me, it seemed it was a perfect development.
“Nevertheless, not my will but Your will,” echoed in my heart. I yielded but only on the outward. Inside, the pain of the disappointment deepened. Outwards, I made the necessary arrangements to accommodate the change in plans. Inwards, I held fast to my picture of “what could have been if…” and nurtured it. Outwards, I appeared to have recalibrated. Inwards, I did not create space for the new realities of the season. It was not long before the thoughts of “what could have been if…” began to fester in my heart into an offense, which inevitably spilled into my attitude. So much that it unwittingly muffled my joy despite the innumerable acts of wonder of God in my life.
I had made a mountain out of the molehill of the change I was asked to make to my plans. The mountain obscured my vision and was robbing me of the joy of the moment. I knew without a doubt that something was wrong with that equation, and I needed to deal with it once and for all. If Jesus gave His all for me, how much more should I be willing to lay aside this particular dream for a season and see what God has in mind for me in that area for now. Thanks be to God that His Holy Spirit dwelling within me will not let me get away with such an attitude, He kept nudging me until I yielded my heart for a checkup.
God is very principled in His dealings. You cannot carry a log in your eyes and hope to see clearly to remove the speck in the eyes of another person. I had to deal with the log obscuring my vision.
My husband, our sons and I spent a quality family time together while on vacation during the first week of January. We resolved to do a joint Bible Study together as a family despite our geographical dislocation. My second son was mandated to select the first devotional we studied together. He chose “Change Your Words. Change Your Life” in the YouVersion, a Bible study app. But as I studied the passages and meditated on the scriptures, all that kept echoing in my heart was “Change your thoughts, change your life.” I could not push aside the questions the Holy Spirit was asking me,
“Are the meditations and content of your heart acceptable to God?” (See Psalm 19:14).
“Do you know that God examines your heart, Irene. Is your heart right with God on this issue?” (See Proverbs 21:2).
Needless to say, I knew my heart was not right with God on this particular issue.
It is what is in my heart, my thoughts, that influences my attitude and determine what I say (Matthew 12:34). If I want to walk in the purpose of God and live with the right attitude fulfilling God’s call on my life, I need to renew my mind. I must guard my heart against all offenses and stuff that are not acceptable to God because this is what determines the course of my life.
By the time we completed this Bible Study, and my first Son selected the next devotional for the family Bible Study, I was ready to pray the “Dangerous Prayer” proposed as the theme of the devotional;
“Examine and know my heart, search me thoroughly, scrutinize and investigate my thoughts and point out anything in me that offends You” (Psalm 17:3-5, 139:23-24).
After all, that is the whole purpose of a heart checkup; for God to point out all the stuff in our thoughts, hearts, and lives that are unacceptable and offensive to Him. This is what I was asking of the Lord.
Lessons learnt and takeaway for 2016:
- The thoughts of “what could have been if…” can hold us down to the past and rob us of the joy of the moment.
- It can also destroy and rob of what we could have had if we have not wasted the moment.
- God’s school of discipleship is one no Christian is ever going to graduate from for as long as we are on this side. Because God has invested so much in us, He will continue to prune us and discipline us so we can bear more fruits. He is not done with you or me yet!
- We need a regular heart checkup to ensure that we are in tune with the will of God.
- As God points out the things that offend Him in our hearts, He gives us the grace to get rid of them and He leads us along the way of everlasting life.
Do you want to live a victorious life that brings glory and honour to God in 2016? Then, I encourage you to submit yourself for a heart checkup. Ask God, as David did, to thoroughly scrutinize and investigate your heart. By the way, He already knows what is there. As He points out the areas that need to be dealt with, His Holy Spirit is always at hand to help as you to renew your heart with the word of God.
Go and get on the line for a heart checkup and live purposefully in 2016.