We just got back from Christmas at the coast. Cameron (5 ½) swam in the waves – really swam – for the first time. As in, he surfed right up to the beach and laughed into wet sand with waves thumping him low. And he waded far out and dived under the swell where it’s deep and quiet and you can somersault through salt far below sun and bubble and froth and holiday shrieks.
I think, for me, that’s what this year is going to be about. Diving through waves. Under the swell. Against the current.
Into the salt of truth.
For the last few years, I haven’t done the new-year’s-resolution thing. I’ve chosen a theme – or a couple of themes – for each year. The themes become the broad ideas that govern my year and permeate the mundane and the magnificent and so kind of take care of the resolutions. My themes have been things like gentleness. Simplicity. Zest. Wisdom. Love. Potential. Forgiveness. Contentment. Last year (you may or may not have noticed) my theme was thanksgiving.
This year, my theme is obedience.
Obedience as the goal. Obedience as the end result. Obedience as equal to the tick of success. Not the means to an end or a blessing or recognition.
Obedience means I need to dive into truth – the salt that heals and preserves and flavours and sometimes stings. And I need the courage to act on it – to swim lower and deeper against rising tides. Not because it’s going to grow my platform but because what else is worth it? And if Jesus used a dozen guys – without twitter – who were obedient to the tug of truth and courage to change the world, he can do it through you and me, too, not so?
So obedience is the courage to live into what is true – and the truth, Jesus says, will set you free. And freedom – soul freedom – grows us younger inside. Which is counterintuitive and counter-culture because how is daily renewal even possible? But this is the thing that sets apart those with life in Christ. ‘The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.’ (Proverbs 4:18)
I’ve thought and prayed and read. I’ve chatted to older wiser people in coffee shops and listened to younger wiser people on jungle gyms. And I am convinced that part of my obedience this year is to write.
Like, really write.
Last year, in a nutshell, was a year of figuring out that this year I really, really want to write. (duh.) I have this book idea, which I’ve started working on, and it feels big and scary and I have days when I’m confident and expectant and days when I think I’m kidding myself and I should quit before I look any stupider.
But I know that not to write would be to disobey. Which is a fearsome thing to face.
So I’ve gathered a small team of people to pray and to cheer and to help me remember that every time I say no to (sometimes lucrative but still distracting) opportunities I’m saying a better yes to the things I feel uniquely called to do. Also, I need to live life if I’m going to write about it, which makes me so grateful for community.
I’m committing to the usual Monday morning post at 8h00 (GMT+2), sharing whatever shape obedience will take over the weeks of 2014. Five Minutes for Freedom – that’s what I’m calling the series. Because it won’t take you longer than that to read a post, and sometimes five minutes of intentional thought punctuated by a small decision is all it takes to change the landscape of a day.
Are you scared? Hopeful? What does obedience look like for you this year? Feel free to leave a comment. You don’t have to swim alone.