Four Words from the edge of Africa: a laid-bare New Year prayer

Last night, our five-year-old asks if we can go out for pizza. We say no. He says – reproachfully: ‘I don’t like your attitude.’

Familiar words. They’re what I’ve been saying to me these last weeks of 2015. I don’t like your attitude.

I preach the Finish Strong doctrine on all the racetracks of life, but strong is too strong a word to describe how I finished the year. I did my best to be the best version of me, but my best was a limp across the line. No photo finish.

Turns out, writing two books in two years (with final edits looming in the next two months) can be depleting, and may or may not induce a bad attitude. Especially when all of life keeps right on happening crazy around the sixteen hours a week I have to find words.

So here at the sea, where there’s rest enough for a soul audit – space to decide what we’re taking with us and what we’re leaving here to be sucked back by the tide – I pray that God would give me one word for the year. One word to steady. One word through which to filter my actions and attitudes.

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Instead, four words wash up on the beach.

WONDER

When our seven-year-old is happy, he twirls, skips and hums. He’s visually impaired, and hasn’t noticed that no one else really does this. Everyone else is too cool to sing and spin delirious. We’ve decided not to point this out, because the fruit of the Spirit is joy, not cool. There’s such purity in the uninhibited wonder of his actions and reactions – such a true gauge of how seven-year-olds the world over might leap about if they didn’t know that anyone was watching, or if they hadn’t already learned aloofness and reserve from all the cool people. Cam’s candid, unconstrained ways have made me determined never to lose my sense of wonder. Wondrously un-cool, I want to keep on delighting in, and being satisfied by, the wonder of the Living God.

I’m praying,

God, let me see as You see. Show me the wonder woven into moments lived slowly and wholly. Keep on awakening in me the wonder of You. Keep me wondering at the end of each day about how much I still have to learn.

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WISDOM

For Murray and me, this has become our standard mantra for all decision-making: In light of our past experiences, our current circumstances, and our future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?

I’m praying,

You are God. I am not. Show me what is wise.

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LOVE

I want to sift life through another question in 2016: What does love require of me?

In this or that situation, does love require me to be tough, or tender? In the gap between expectations and experience, how do I believe the best, instead of assuming the worst? How do I posture myself to love God, and others? How do I live with what C.S. Lewis called the child’s heart of faith and the adult’s head of reason? Because love keeps on being brave enough to forgive and to stay connected to a hurting, hating world.

I’m praying,

You are the God who wastes nothing. Help me never to waste an interaction. Show me how to show others the love I would hope for, from them.

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LEVERAGE

I want to be prepared for whatever God has planned. So, I’m not waiting for the big break. I’m treating every opportunity like it’s the opportunity. I’m treating every end result like it’s the end result – not a means to some greater, more significant outcome. Obedience is always the tick of success and I’m so done with the celebrity culture that has made Christian writing, blogging and speaking a thing of elbowing for a place at the main table. I want to make it my ambition to lead a quiet life (1 Thessalonians 4:11). I want to put my head down and work hard to dig and seed and water in faith – then look up amazed to see what God has grown.

I’m praying,

God, leverage my life for Your maximum glory, by strengthening me to leverage every opportunity You give. I trust that You are totally committed to Your glory, Your Kingdom and Your people, and so I trust that it’s in Your best interests to best position me for Your best use, whatever shape that takes.

Mostly, I’m giving thanks that Jesus is already 365 steps ahead of us, and then some.

The best is yet to be, and by His grace, we’ll Finish Strong.

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. . .

Thank you so, so much for journeying with me here for another year. Sending you much love, and my prayers that you would know wonder and wisdom in 2016. It’s always awesome to hear from you. You can also join me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

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10 comments

  1. Darlene thank you for your words of wisdom shared with us from your heart. May you and your family be especially blessed in the year ahead. Happy New Year. With love. Xx

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  2. Dear Dalene, thank you for your words from the edge of Africa! I am reading them on the other side of the world on the eastern edge of Australia and they have touched me deeply. My sister-in-law connected me to your site on a recent visit to South Africa and I am so glad she did. Best wishes for 2016 – may it be a more measured, considered year and may these 4 words bring a rich harvest into your life and the lives of your family.

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  3. Thank you for your honesty.

    I hope you had a good rest.

    Someone once wrote: “Jesus Christ. King, Friend, Redeemer . Slayer of dragons. Cleanser of dirt. You are mighty to save. You make all the difference. Take your glory.”

    Praying for you. You rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh yes, these will be my goals for the coming year – it is so easy to get bogged down in the busyness of life, even at my age and we need to be reminded to stop and think, smell the flowers and revel in the wonder around us. May this be a wonderful, refreshing year for you and your family. Much love, you are really special!

    Liked by 1 person

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