“In Gibeon, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night; and God said, ‘Ask what you wish me to give you.’” 1 Kings 3:5
What would your response be if God asked you this question?
Well, it’s January again, and in the season of New Year’s resolutions and curiosity about the year to come, our heart’s may be asking God for many desires and longings. We all look ahead to a new year with a new start that many of us having been expectantly waiting for as 2015 came to a close.
I absolutely love this time of year, because it speaks so much about freshness and a newness of life. I love the feeling of busting out a new planner, journal, and/or beautiful set of new pens to document it all with. To me, the new year feels like an Easter-type message as this new season begins and we start marking things in a new year, 2016!
This New Year’s message seemed to be all over my Bible readings this morning, from the inspiring words of the Psalms, the story of Solomon becoming king, new start reminders in James, and finally, through Jesus’ healing in John 5. The Bible speaks to us frequently about a season of newness and the state of our hearts before and after Jesus’ new life makes a change in us. This is the Gospel message, Jesus’ message of a hope and future and a the full life we were meant to live through Him.
For me, this past year has been crying out for a season of newness. My husband and I faced many new things this year as we started out as two newly weds moving to a foreign country. He started new studies, I was looking for a new job, we found a new community. There was no lack of newness, but many of these new opportunities also brought about new trials that broke us down and showed us the ugliness of human nature when the going gets tough.
As we have been meeting up with friends during our few months home for the holidays, one of them asked us if we felt closer to God after living in Africa for a year. My automatic response is, “Duh!” because of course trials are known to draw us closer to God and mission trips to Africa are notorious for helping people achieve a spiritual high. However, I found myself also sitting with this question a bit longer, and truly wondering what this year brought about in me.
If by closeness, our friend meant those warm fuzzies I have when holding some of my other friends’ sweet little babies, or sitting down at a precious wedding ceremony… no that is not the feeling I remember most about this past year. If by closeness he meant sweet hours spent reading the Bible, praying and literally feeling the presence of God with me everyday, I would also have to say this was not the majority of my 2015 experience. However, I am thankful for the faith that has sustained me and the God who is my Rock. No matter the number of changing and challenging circumstances, He has and always will bring us through as He has promised.
“He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns chariots with fire.”
The Psalmist cries out in chapter 46, and then resolves in the verse that follows,
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
Thank goodness that God is our stronghold. In good times and in bad. In whatever this past year held for you, and for whatever lies in this year to come, we always called to know that He is God — our God.
So, in lieu of a New Year’s resolution, I have followed suit with a few of my friends and mentors, and decided instead to pick just one word to describe my hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. After all the chaos of my 2015, I want to be still and know that He’s is God. My word for 2016 is humility.
God has humbled me many ways in 2015, and I want to continue diving deep into this virtue and ask God for the strength to learn more deeply how great and wonderful He is and what my humble response should look like.
Solomon’s response to the one thing he would ask for from God in 1 Kings was what I believe to be one of Solomon’s most humble and glorious moments. He starts off his request by acknowledging his deep lowliness.
“Now, Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” 1 Kings 3:7
It’s true, Solomon was literally a child, and in the shadow of his father, the beloved and successful king of Israel, but he did not have to view himself this way. In fact, in the eyes of his subjects, Solomon had every right to boast in his youth and ride on the success of his father. But before the Lord, Solomon knew his own lowliness and deep shortcomings. As the passage continues, Solomon simply asks the Lord for wisdom to rule God’s people with true Justice. He says,
“So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” 1 Kings 3:9
The Lord not only gives Solomon what he has asked for, but he also rewarded his humility and grace with earthly treasures to compliment his wisdom, which was greater than anyone to come before or after him. That is pretty amazing.
What would you ask of the Lord this year? How may the Lord answer? What are the tasks that lie ahead of you? Do they feel too big? Or too small?
Let us remember that He is God, and His desires for us are much better than what we know how to ask for ourselves, but I love that he allows our hearts to ask.
James writes in chapter 4 of his letter that we cannot say what tomorrow will bring without acknowledging that our hopes and dreams will only come to fruition if the Lord wills it. May we ask for His grace and His blessing for our futures, and be content with the good and beautiful way He has willed it for us. Let us embrace this season of newness and be inspired by the grace of our Lord to live our lives to the fullest.
Let us be the women He has called us to be. Bring it on 2016!