Wednesday, January 8, 2020

My Word for 2020 - Dwell

The plan was to pack away all of the Christmas decorations yesterday, but with snow in the forecast, the thought of twinkling lights and softly falling snowflakes was enough to cause me to bring that idea to a halt. In the end it lasted for a whopping total of about ten minutes and nothing stuck. But it was beautiful while it lasted and I take satisfaction, misconstrued though it may be, in knowing that it snowed while the Christmas decorations were up. Yep, I'm weird like that.

To be honest I've been struggling with the thought of taking them down at all. I struggle every year. There is just something about the days leading up to Christmas, the anticipation, that sense of having something wonderful to look forward to, that once it passes always leaves me with an aching emptiness. There is no other season filled with so much, and I love every-single-minute of it. Then January comes along, and believe me I stretch that season out as far as I can. But once Christmas day has passed, and especially after the turn of the year, the enchantment begins to fade, the lights dim and life-as-we-know-it resumes.

This year is especially hard because of all the impending changes in our lives. I have no idea where we will be when Christmas rolls around again at the end of the year, and if I'm honest, I'm struggling. I've been a homebody all of my life. I like to stake out a place and call it mine and live in it. I don't care much for change. And yet deep down I know, that where I am in these moments is exactly where I should be, and more importantly, that it is God's will for me.

Not surprisingly my word for 2020 is DWELL. As in years past I began intentionally praying for it to be revealed late last autumn, and in His faithfulness, it came. In songs, in my reading, it seemed wherever I looked was the constant refrain of dwell. At first it seemed too easy, my life psalm is Psalm 91, and in particular verses 1-2.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my strength."

And while I liked the idea of this being my focus for the year, in some ways it seemed too familiar.  But then this week, and especially today, it started to become a little clearer.

D W E L L 

What does "to dwell" mean to me? The first things that came to mind were scenes of home, of nesting, of home keeping, of not just occupying a space but truly living in it. It is me to my core, it rests in the very soul of me. But in light of it being my word for the year, how does that factor? What is the deeper meaning that He wants to communicate in speaking this word over my life for 2020? So this morning, I read Psalm 91 again, and that was when I saw it. Why, when I think of dwelling, especially in light of my claim that Psalm 91:1-2 is my life verse, is God not the first thing that comes to mind? Is He, have I TRULY made Him my resting place? Is my desire for Him greater than my desire for all of these things, this stuff? Where is my heart truly at home? In Him, or in the world?

As with so many other things in life. it was as if the blinders had suddenly been removed from my eyes and for the first time I could clearly see. This venture, this dream that I feel called to pursue with my husband,  is about so much more than minimizing our lives down to what will fit inside of a Ford F 350 passenger van. So much more than leaving "home" and seeking out adventure. This is about stripping me of anything that would bind my heart and hold me too tightly to this earth,  and calling me fully into the dwelling place of the Most High. This "stuff", these images that come to mind so easily when I think of dwelling and home, are but a shadow of all that awaits me. And please don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with filling our homes with pretty things, and making a comforting and inviting place for our families to rest. But for me personally this space that I occupy has become my safe place, my refuge, and in essence, I realize that all of this stuff that I've surrounded myself with, holds my heart too tightly.

I tried to convince myself that if the ceiling of my home were to open up and God were to reveal Himself to me in that expanse and ask me to choose that SURELY I would choose Him. But then I thought of the hundred little moments every day when I am faced, essentially, with that same choice and I choose other things over Him. All-this-stuff I surround myself with, that give me the illusion of safety, of refuge. All of these mortal things that fail in comparison to all that He has for me. I think of Matthew 19, and of the rich man. When he looked on his life he could check off all the boxes, he'd made all the right choices, but the one thing he lacked . . . his riches meant more to him than Christ himself. He missed heaven because His heart was bound too strongly to earth. OUCH! That one stings, because. . . . . I am he.

So how does this play out, what does this look like? I'm not even sure I know. I don't feel the Lord calling me to sale all of my possessions. Our plan all along has been for our daughter to use much of it as she will be taking over the lease when we leave. Then at some point, when we feel it is time to end our traveling, and depending on where she is, we will settle somewhere and our things will be waiting for us. By then much of it may be in storage, as Kate will most likely want to purchase her own furnishings and decor to suit her personal taste. So much of how this is all going to play out is really unknown and will unfold over time, but this is the idea, anyway. I guess what I'm saying is, we don't feel it would be prudent to simply sell everything and then once we are finished traveling to have to buy it all over again. And since Kate doesn't have the financial means to furnish an apartment right now, it just makes sense for her to use what is already here until she either no longer wants it or we need it again. That being said, it's not so much that I feel a need to rid myself of my idols as much as I am being freed of their hold on me. Less of me (and all of my stuff that I hold so dear), and more of Him.

Another thing that has been revealed over the past few days, is that while "dwell" is my word, Psalm 91:1-2 is not my verse for the year. You see, in addition to making my physical home my refuge and needing to learn to dwell in Him, I likewise don't tarry well in the waiting. I don't like not knowing what is coming or how my life is going to play out. But honestly, do any of us? The not knowing is built into life I believe essentially to lead us to place our trust in Him. He is the only known, the one constant, the true assurance. By learning to dwell in Him, I likewise am entrusting myself to Him. I can control my surroundings, with carefully articulated choices and considered placement, I've created a beautiful illusion, not only of safety but of control. God wants to strip me of both, and in that this verse lept from the pages yesterday, and I knew in an instant.

"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."

- Psalm 37:7

In my dwelling, in making Him my refuge, in leaning into Him as "home" and being reminded that we were never meant to feel as "at home" on this earth as I'm afraid I've made myself, I likewise have to trust Him. I don't know where I'll be this time next year. . . how many times have those words crossed my mind over the days and weeks as I've essentially mourned the impending changes? But truthfully, I don't even know what is going to happen in the next hour! Oh how much control I've been fooled into believing I yield. I know nothing, save for His relentless faithfulness to me. I would have given up long ago.

And as for Christmas and essentially packing away all the joy to just "resume life as usual", you can bet that wasn't wasted, either. Why is it that I attach the joy of the anticipation of His coming to these earthly symbols? And again, please don't think for a moment that I am dissing Christmas and all-that-it-entails. I will FOREVER love this season. But honestly, every day of my life, of our lives could and should be lived in the joyful anticipation, not only of His birth, but of His second coming, of His glorious return. Every single day of our lives is lived in advent, in awaiting. As a Christian there is no such thing as "life as usual", there is only "life in Him".

I came across a book a few days back, The Practice of the Presence of God by Father Lawrence, and I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to read it. The title alone is at the heart of dwelling in Him, so that's a starting point. Likewise, I feel the urge to find a way to "keep Christmas" in the here and now, in every moment of these ordinary days, and from what I've read so far, Father Lawrence lived such a life. Christ was very much at the center of every task he undertook.

And now, if you've stuck with me this far, then I applaud you! Over the coming weeks I'll be sharing more, and I've no doubt that dwelling, and resting will be a common theme, so if anything in this now very long post has intrigued you, then I hope you'll follow along. Do you have a word for the year? And if so, what is it? I always love hearing about such things, and seeing how the Lord weaves them into the fabric of our days. Leave your thoughts in the comments, and let's catch up again soon!

Until then, dwell in Him,


1 comment:

pam said...

I just love what you've written, Kim. "Dwell" could have well been my word as I am like you in what you've articulated in this post.

My word this year is "nourish." Myself, my family, and others. Looking at this through all aspects of my life and in the lives of those I care for. Body, soul, mind. Nourishing through the Word. Through food choices. In how I choose to educate the children. In what feeds my/ our souls.... I could type on all I've thought about as much as you have in your post. As with "dwell," I'm finding that "nourish" too, has many different angles/ aspects that can come into play.

I'm so looking forward to your thought process as you get closer to embarking on your travels. This is something that when we were still in our 20's my husband said he'd love to do in retirement, and it's something that I've always said, "No way!" too. Like you, I'm homebody at heart. And through what you've written, I can see that I, too, am "that one," and that's why I've always said, "No way." Or, "I could never."

Looking forward to an interesting, fun and challenging year!