Not so lost in 2011!

I started this year feeling pretty lost in 2011.  With only twenty goals on the conservative version of the list(!), I wasn’t really sure which way to turn.  I was believing God for a year of new opportunities as I finished off my MA dissertation and turned my eyes to consider what God might have in store for me next.

But I didn’t know what that would be.

And so I had slipped back into my time-honoured tradition of goal-setting.  Goals, after all, are a great way to get things done and make progress.  The only slight problem is that they can take you a very long way in the wrong direction if you’re not careful!  By the end of the first week of January, I was beginning to suspect that I was vulnerable to making this error, vulnerable to obscuring with a lot of activity the fact that I didn’t know where I was going or why.

That post ended with a longing that I would not attempt to shore up my identity by doing things, but rather that I would discipline my heart in 2011 to wait for God to reveal more of who he created me to be, in order that what I might I do would flow naturally from that

A few days later, I posted again and this time I had the outlines of a plan to help me wait and listen well.  Today, I want to revisit that plan to see whether it might serve me for 2012.

CREATING SPACE FOR GOD TO SPEAK

  • Solitude
  • Meditating on Scripture (which may mean dwelling in it, rather than reading great swathes of it)
  • Times of listening silence before God (which means a silence that is heart-deep: thus, not only no music or talking but also no reading at those times.  How will I cope?)
  • ‘No agenda’ devotional times (and yes, no agenda means no prayer shopping lists, not even church/pastoral care-related ones!)

CREATING SPACE FOR GOD TO SPEAK THROUGH OTHERS

  • Reading (thank goodness!) in the area of spirituality
  • Perhaps even exploring spiritual direction again, and definitely appropriate openness with believing friends

CREATING SPACE FOR ME TO RESPOND

  • Journalling

As I read this, I don’t know what to think.  These practices have been great for me.  And, mostly, I have actually practised them!  Listening silence is the only one at which I grimace slightly.  I wasn’t getting that quite right at the halfway point this year.  I’m still not, to be honest.  I can journal.  I can pray.  I can read.  I can sing.  But, for some reason, I can’t do silence which is heart-deep.  Not consistently anyway.

But all I can sense is that I need to deepen these practices in 2012.  They have been wonderful, without doubt…

to journal (and to blog with increasing honesty and vulnerability)…  to commit almost all of my Fridays to solitude and reflection and fun…  to hang out in the same passages of Scripture for months (John 5:19 has been the soundtrack of my year!)…  to spend the occasional chunk of three to five days with no agenda other than prayer, reflection, solitude, reading, listening to God and the wise people around me…  to engage in a series of coaching sessions reflecting, in essence, on what John 5:19 might mean for my life…  to read lots of books on spirituality…  to spend a week on the leaders’ school run by Father’s House Trust and experience God at perhaps the deepest level ever in my life…  to lose myself at my college desk in deep theological thinking (that’s the thoughts of those whom I’m reading, not me, by the way!)…

…all these things have been deeply transformative and they have begun to confirm the strands of calling which I first began to dream aloud in the early days of this blog.  These practices have helped me to discern the beginnings of what God seems to be saying over my life, who he is calling me to be, in a my way that no set of goals ever could.

Yet they are not enough.  As doors have begun to open for me this year in ways I didn’t expect, I am starting to feel a bit overwhelmed.  I know I said I wanted to pursue teaching and writing opportunities alongside my call to pastor the church which, even now, remains nameless on this blog (to be rectified soon, perhaps!).  But I never really believed that anyone would actually be interested in my writing or teaching!  I never thought that God would be so clear about wanting me to do this further study to prepare for what comes in the second half of ministry.  I never expected to publish an academic article, let alone two.  I never expected to get the other opportunities which have come my way this year.  I never thought I’d have opportunity to serve not only in the church where I am now, rooted in a community which keeps me oh-so-real(!), and yet also to serve a wider audience with writing and teaching.

And now all I can think is that if the branches of the tree seem to be spreading out more, reaching higher, then the roots had better go a lot, lot deeper!  2012 needs to be a year of ever-deepening intimacy with my Father, deliberate spiritual practices which will tune my heart to the rhythms of the triune God.  Habits which will train me not to become enamoured with apparently greater successes but, instead, to set my eyes all the more firmly on the One in whom all the fulness of God is pleased to dwell.

That is what I want most of all for 2012.  Eyes which don’t ever stray from him, whatever comes to me.  And a heart which can say no to everything else – in order to say Amen to what he has already said Yes to in my life.

Even as I write this, I have no idea how it is going to look, no idea how I’m going to navigate the challenges and prepare my heart to be more rooted in the only One who deserves glory and less distracted by all the other pretty diversions which life offers.

But I trust in the God who has brought me this far: he alone will take me safely through it all.  He alone will do it and I will trust him.

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10 thoughts on “Not so lost in 2011!

    • Steve, thank you…and thanks for cheering me on towards further study over the summer when I was wavering about it all and, of course, for believing in us enough to ask H and me to cover your Greek classes this year. At the time of writing the original ‘Lost in 2011′ post, I would never have dreamt to have that opportunity (especially when I look back four years to my first term in your Greek 2A class where I didn’t even know how to read the Greek aloud and, quite honestly, couldn’t remember much of the basics from MacNair either!). So, a big thanks to you for the part you’ve played…

  1. I’ve been tip-toeing round your blog Chloe – a little too close for comfort at times. But today it seems timely. Always the wise one Chloe, (the English A level discussions…) I think, like you, I need to learn to be first and then listen and then do. We have had similar attitudes to life at times and it would be good to meet up soon – think I could do with some more of your wisdom! Keep writing Chloe – I will follow you more closely, however hard I might find some of the truths! xxx

    • You don’t have to tiptoe, Rebecca; you are always so very welcome! Speaking of A-level English, I got back into e-mail contact with Mrs W the other day – mostly to thank her for the way she taught me to write. And, by the way, I don’t know if I was wise so much as just plain argumentative in those discussions. (Little has changed!) ;-)

      It would be lovely to meet up; hopefully we can connect over facebook to make a plan for the near future? Will you drop me a line? x

  2. Well put Chloe! I don’t often take the time to read your blogs, but I’m glad I read this one :-) You put words to my thoughts and struggles. Merry Christmas and A Happy New 2012 with lots of deep roots!

  3. Chloe,
    Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comment to my New Year’s Anti-Resolutions post at Gifted for Leadership. I really enjoyed it, and your insights about doing vs being are apt and pertinent. I wrestle with how to respond to doors God seems to be opening, especially at times when there are too many of them to walk through with excellence and attention of spirit. Goal-setting and goal-meeting are no replacement for deep, slow, intentional, joyful relationship with God. I like your image of deep roots to ground and anchor the spreading of the branches – lovely. And helpful.
    Blessings to you and your pursuit of Jesus in 2012.
    Susan

    • Susan, great to connect with you and thank you for your comments. It’s so encouraging that you followed the link from my comment all the way over here! I shall make sure to check out your personal site now too! Blessings, Chloe

  4. Pingback: Platform for Ministry? | Chloe Lynch | Provoketive Magazine

  5. Pingback: Rhythms for the art of steering | The Art of Steering

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