Decorated trees are sprouting in living rooms around the country, carols are playing in the mall, and shoppers eagerly await packages from Amazon. It’s that time of year again—time for my birthday. As usual, we’re so busy with seasonal activities—Christmas parties, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, more parties—that I barely have time to celebrate. That’s all right. In December, I prefer to focus on Someone else’s birthday.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I tend to ignore New Year’s Eve and the start of the calendar year. It seems so arbitrary. Instead, I use my birthday as a time to mull over the year past and the year to come. What did God tell me to do last year? Did I do it? And what about the year to come? Is He directing me in any particular direction?
The missions pastor at our church explained that every year he asks God for a word—one single word—that will be the global department’s focus for the coming year. What a great idea! As my birthday approaches, I’m doing the same thing. I’m asking God to give me a word or short phrase that will describe what He wants to accomplish in this next year of my life.
Along the same lines, our pastor is asking God, “What is my assignment for 2014?” If you’ve been a Jesus-follower very long, you know that God doesn’t like to hand us instructions and then send us off to follow them. Rather, He wants to come with us. Or, more accurately, He’s going somewhere to do something and He invites us to tag along.
By asking for an assignment, I don’t expect detailed instructions. It’s more of a general sense—which direction will He and I be headed in this coming year? Should I give attention to overseas ministry or local ministry, to finding a paying job (which I need if we’re to meet our budget) or being a grandma?
In truth, I expect to do all these things. Pete and I volunteer in our church café on Sunday mornings. That’s local ministry, serving God by serving our church. I’m also working on several ideas for converting the photos I took in Swaziland into a source of funding for the children at the CarePoint there. Cards, posters, a calendar… we’ll see how that works out.
I have polished up my resume (for the first time in over 30 years!) and will begin a serious job hunt after the holidays. Anyone know of something part time and somewhat flexible? If possible, I’d love to work from home, because I also want to babysit my newest granddaughter on a regular basis.
In light of my Swazi experience, I’ve been reading books on justice and development—trafficking and modern-day slavery, the worldwide oppression of women, microenterprise, and the like. This isn’t a new interest, but one that has unexpectedly claimed my full attention. I have a hunch that God is behind my sudden desire to learn more and then do something.
Sure, I take pictures of plants and birds and scenery and the like, and I love to open people’s eyes to God’s creation, but now that isn’t nearly enough. God is inviting me to join him in a ministry that I expect will change my life. I’m eager to get started.
In the midst of the holiday bustle, I hope you find time to slow down and have a good heart-to-heart with our Lord and Savior. What direction is He pointing you in for 2014? How can you prepare now?