For the past two years, I’ve traded in my typical list of New Year’s resolutions, boiling my focus down to just a couple of words. In 2014, Freedom and Gratitude stayed at the forefront of my heart all year, and God did some miraculous works in my life. 2015 had me continually returning to Live Today Fully.
I thought I’d found my word for this year…but God began to make it clear to me that I hadn’t quite gotten it right. So, I had a choice: ignore that check in my spirit and go with the warm, fuzzy word I wanted or lean harder into Him and hear what His heart is for me this year. And what I heard sure didn’t sound comfortable.
As soon as I heard it I knew. He’s asking me to mature into patience and perseverance this year. To not grow weary. To not give up. To do the hard things.
I’ve found that I seem to hear Him more clearly when I’m either in the shower or on a road trip. During the “lost” week between Christmas and New Year’s, my family made a cross-country trek to visit family. We make trips like this several times a year, so we’ve gotten comfortable being confined to a small space for hours upon hours. Those long hours on the road offer us time to focus on each other, dream, take silly pictures, make plans, have sing-alongs, play games, and so on.
And when it’s my turn to drive, my family naps while I sit alone with my thoughts, accompanied by the noise of the road and worship music turned high…and God speaks. This time, when I asked Him for clarity for 2016, He said, “Press.”
Press IN. Into His Presence. Into the present moment. My original, warm and fuzzy word comes in here…Presence. His Presence and mine. But it’s not enough to simply acknowledge His Presence, I need to press into it. It’s not enough to realize my own presence in a moment. I need to press into it.
Press ON. This is where it gets uncomfortable. Press on forward towards the goal. Press on past the excuses that have ruled me. Do not grow weary. Do not give up. Do not retreat. Do not give up ground in my soul. Press on! Persevere.
Press OUT. Those sins and weights on my soul that I’ve allowed have to go. They must be deliberately pressed out of my life. And I’m the only one who can do that. God will be there along every step, but it is my decision as to what I allow to give residence to in my life. And, the beautiful part? All this pressing into Him, pressing on forward, and pressing out sins I’ve grown accustomed to will result in a pressing out of worship that is like pure oil, healing and fragrant. That is the purpose here.
The most prized oils come from the first pressing. The most nutritious juices are from a fresh pressing. The most readied clothes have been pressed free from wrinkles. The most successful athletes have pressed past their own boundaries.
Press. When I don’t feel like it. When I’d rather lie down. When it’s difficult. When God seems distant. When my sins are comfortable. When my excuses seem like right justifications. When I’d rather sit back and coast. Press.
What is God showing you for 2016? Where is He calling you to grow with Him?