I've known for a long time about the effects of fresh air and outside space on my general well-being, so I've tried to be especially disciplined about outside time over the last few weeks.
As my "word for 2016," I chose wakefulness, or more simply, awake. With that choice, I didn't think much about application. The general notion was to be alert and observant, keeping my eyes off myself and the ground directly in front of me. I knew that letting this idea influence my daily life would be hard. As is my tendency, I figured I'd just will myself to do it. Right. That usually works for awhile, but I've noticed that if my pursuit of any goal is solitary, my selfish desires always trump my own will for good. When I involve Christ—as I should—then this desire He's placed on my heart becomes all the more real, and the origin and application of it finally makes sense. Awake is a theme that's been fostering in my heart over the last few years.
I'll be moved to tears just by witnessing daily life around me. It hits me in a shoe store, or on a trail by myself, or as I stand next to a nine-year-old girl singing worship songs to Jesus at the top of her voice. This excerpt from an Ask Pastor John podcast is spot on to my intention for the year and the dichotomy I feel in those moments when I simultaneously experience so much joy and sorrow.
Becoming a Christian is an awakening: an awakening to the pervasiveness of sin, to the subtleties of evil, to our need for Christ, and to the realities of daily life. Without grace, the world desensitizes us and dulls our spiritual vision and numbs our spiritual needs to pure ignorance. So in Christ we are brought to life, given a tender heart, and given new levels of sensitivity when it comes to pain of life. [...] The gospel brings life, right? And living things are awake and alert and touchable by other things. Which means, welcome to Christ and greater sorrow. I have little patience with ministries that sell Jesus with the promise that he will make your life easier. He doesn’t. I promise you. He makes it real. He makes it eternal. And he makes the joy in it indomitable and invincible, but so do your sorrows rise. Come to Jesus and learn how to weep. The world doesn’t know how to weep for lost people. They are one. They don’t even believe in it. They don’t believe in hell. They don’t see to the bottom of anyone’s pain. They see pain. They feel pain. But they don’t see to the bottom of it. Christians are the saddest people in the world — and the happiest. [...] So the gospel brings life, and in this life comes sensitivity to reality, and reality is really sad in a not-yet-saved world.
This past week shed more light on my feeling small (and a little bit melancholy). Practically, I'm spending more time outside. I've done war with the pull of hours-upon-hours of Netflix and lost a few battles. Mindless rest is not rest, at least not for me. Those days feel like wasted days—whole days where I chose to have an unaware heart. But the days that I chose something different led to a worthwhile trip outside to be with my Jesus and the afternoon light and my messiest hair. Despite (or because?) of the disruption from routine, there is a sense of really being alive. Really here, you know? Awake.
Maybe your year will has a different focus, but may we all choose outside over inside in every literal and figurative way. There is so much to see if only we look up as we wake up. It requires Christ's grace to really feel true sorrow and the joy that accompanies it. And it requires His grace to really be awake. I'm finally letting these heart-healthy truths settle into who I am, as I more fully realize that the gospel brings both life and the opportunity to be awake for it.