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Posts Tagged ‘New Year’s Resolutions’

It’s ba-ack. As if you hadn’t noticed, whether you wanted to or not. Whether you’ve been glued to the TV on Sunday nights or feel like screaming when you realize that yet another of your friends is still in mourning over Matthew Crawley’s untimely death, you must be aware that Downton Abbey has returned.

Downton Abbey,which garnered 9.5 million viewers for its debut episode of season four in the UK, and 10.2 million in the USA, making it the highest-rated premiere for a drama in PBS history.

Downton Abbey, that period drama lover’s ultimate feast of the eyes, the ears, and the imagination.

Oh, the costumes, oh, the settings!

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Oh, the dialogue, oh, the quotes!

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And we cannot help it, can we, if even just a little, stepping into the shoes of Mary, upstairs, or Anna, down. Can’t help but feel their small triumphs, feel their pain.

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And it’s a little bit of all of this, I’d say, which drew me to Great Britain in the first place. Which always made me so pleased to be living there. The great natural beauty of that greenest of islands, and how history has dotted the countryside with its castles, and its churches, and its woods. And how you can  hardly pass through a small town or village without passing by the birthplace or resting place of some literary genius who has brought to our language rich stories, and phrases, and words. And there is something, something about the tiers of society, the division of the classes, which has formed Britain through the centuries, and which has always drawn my curiosity and admiration. Not the exploitation of children and women and minorities, and the horrors that these abuses brought. But the idea that in this world, in this universe, there is something grander and finer than anything most of us know. Something worth giving our lives to. Something worthy of our allegiance and respect.

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The idea of servitude is quite foreign to us here in the West. We see it as our right to aim for the top, make our voice heard, and live as we please. But it’s a thought, isn’t it, that most of us will never be the giver nor the recipient of such humble loyalty and devotion as there is between Mary and her Anna. Between Lord Grantham and his Bates. Perhaps between us and our spouse we might know such a relationship, but probably not even then.

And I can’t help but think, as I open up my Bible, read the words my eyes have passed over so many times before, that there might be something to that idea of servitude and fidelity. Something for me now, today.

It can be easy to think of God’s commandments as simply a good idea. An admirable option. We remember to see Jesus as our best friend, our older brother, but forget that God is a consuming fire, a King who requires our submission, our unquestioned obedience, our all.

He won’t ever force His will upon us, for a slave is not what He seeks.

The choice–to follow or to run–is, and always has been, ours.

But if we give but half a heart, half a life, how can we expect to fully receive all He wants to give us?

Be guided as He wants to guide us?

Be blessed as He wants to bless us?

Know Him as He longs to be known?

And after all, though God calls us to be His servants, it is not in the servants’ hall that He wants us to dwell.

When chauffer Tom Branson of Downton Abbey married Sybil, the family were eventually forced to put aside his former status for the sake of their daughter. They even stopped calling him Branson, let him sleep upstairs in the big house, and gave him a say in the running of the estate. But in the truest sense of the word, he never became fully a son, an heir.

It’s different, though, with us and God. He calls us His children. Wants us close.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. ~Galations 4:7

Being a servant, yes, God calls us to that, but it is not something that He has not done himself. His entire life on earth, right up till His death for us on the cross, was spent in service to us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, showed His faithfulness to the last.

So that is where I’m starting this January, this new year.

I’m throwing out my old New Year’s List.

Starting with a new:

1. Unquestioned obedience.

My face like flint.

It’s a step of faith, this giving of myself, giving my all in the day to day.

And it won’t be easy.

But with a God who is LOVE, who has already given all for me, I have nothing to fear.

For the Lord God helps Me, Therefore, I am not disgraced; Therefore, I have set My face like flint, And I know that I will not be ashamed.

Isaiah 50:7

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There was a long list of bad this Christmas.

Like the enormous branch out back that fell and crushed my poor lilac bush. The ice storm came (that was before the arctic vortex and heaps of snow), and I guess that big old tree got a little too burdened down. Couldn’t take the stress. Couldn’t take the weight. So down it came.

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The rest of our Christmas, well it was mostly the same. A little too much heaviness to bear.

Plenty of decorating and buying and wrapping and baking and carol playing and even praying beforehand, all meant to create the perfect day, but sometimes all the planning in the world will still leave you with a mess.

Sometimes you plan but get it all so wrong.

Sometimes you plan but it’s out of your control.

That ice again, lovely as it was, had it’s wicked way.

Treacherous driving conditions.

Night out with the girls for a chance to laugh and de-stress? Canceled.

Many thousands without heat or power. 

Christmas Eve service at church? Canceled, too.

Mum hosting Christmas dinner? Nope. With two days to plan, it’s going to be me.

But there was more . . .

A mix-up of the name-drawing.

A gift for everyone under the tree? Well, not quite.  

Keys locked in a running car.

Tired children put to bed on time? Think again.

A tummy bug moving slowly through the house till we all had our turn.

All of us there round the Christmas table, feeling right as rain? No, not that either.

Sometimes you plan but get it all so wrong.

Sometimes you plan but it’s out of your control.

Yet all this, all this we could have easily born with a nervous laugh and with making due. All this we could have born if only a frazzled mix of folks from different parts of the country, different parts of the globe, hadn’t all been tossed together, till from our botched arrangements surfaced pain, sadness, regret from weeks, months, years past.

Like my lilac bushes, it seems we, too, can be frail.

Tender.

Like the flowers. Like the grass.

Tender,

so that when love and fear come together,

like with family and with friends,

we feel an aching in our hearts

and a burden just too much to bear.

Too much to bear alone.

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And it all seemed such a sham. The presents and the tree. The music. All the talk of joy and peace.

Because sometimes you plan but it’s out of your control.

And sometimes you plan, but there’s something deeper, something realer, that you missed.

All our shattered plans for Christmas or for life, they can really shake our souls, leave us wondering how to hope.

How to hope, or why.

Leave us wondering if the New Year will bring us more of just the same. And if you’re anything like me then you’re tempted to whisk out a sheet of paper and start making lists, ask yourself what went wrong, and start planning so the future will be better.

As if we could fix ourselves, fix our families, with a list.

The only thing is, sometimes you plan but get it all so wrong.

Sometimes you plan but it’s out of your control.

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New Year’s resolutions? Yes, I’ve got them. Organized drawers, eating kale, and the like.

But this year what I’m planning is complete surrender.

Submission like I’ve never known.

All I have, all I am, all I dream, brought to the feet of the only One who will never get it wrong and never let me down.

Because what my family, what my world, what I am missing is more of Jesus.

And because it’s only is His will that we can ever truly be free.

I’m taking His list. Making it mine. Turning my life right upside down.

And I’m starting with the Word.

Because not only is the Word with God, but the Word IS God. (John 1:1).

And it’s living, and it’s active, and it knows me, too (Hebrews 4:12).

I’m going to see what I’ve been missing.

I’m going to learn to love and live

like Him.

This is January.

The first day of the rest of my life.

Join me as I discover.

You won’t look back.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.

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