I am trying not to skip around the quiet house in delight. My kids are back to school. They've gone back today, walking out to the school bus this morning as the snow fell down and as my praise went up to God that I was free at last. Well, not free in the negative sense that they are a ball and chain, but rather that I am free to hear myself think aloud, free to contemplate and wash the dishes quietly while Harry snores on the couch. Now I can do the "work" of dreaming, planning, and considering what amazing thing is next.
I have decided not to make any concrete, quantifiable resolutions this year. (There is the one need to exercise, but that's more of a given than a resolution.) I've decided this not so that I can go under the radar and have no accountability as far as progress,but rather so that I can wave my banner of R.I.S.K. (Redeem, Invest, See, Keep) and see what specific actions I should take under these Valuable Verbs that call me onward. I think these four words are challenging enough, and specific enough, that if I apply them to my life, daily, I will have more than enough accountability and resulting action.
The last couple days Bill and I have been talking about where we fell, where we flubbed up, these last couple years. Ever since we bought this house, it feels like we have holed up in a comfortable place (albeit too small a place). We would normally have sold the house by now, because we usually fix up a house and sell it in two years or less. We are now going on our third year here. And I can tell we have stayed long enough. It's time to get moving again.
I know why we haven't moved on. I know why we decided not to sell this house- as far as the economics of it all, the real estate market declining, our financial nest egg having dramatically declined and therefore leaving us without the means to really do another project. I know those reasons. But there are other reasons why we've stayed put- and these have to do with safety and security.
We made some mistakes in our financial/investment plan, and we lost a lot of ground these last two years. When you find yourself coming up short, as far as available resources, it's much easier to just decide that you are content with what you have and adjust accordingly to your diminished state. If I do not let myself get stirred up by a dream, I can tend my little fire of glowing coals and say that I rather like the warmth of dying coals instead of the blazing heat of a roaring fire. That way I do not have to get up , chop down trees, drag in the logs and throw them on the fire. So I can sit by a little warmth, stay warmed enough to be content...until the fire goes out completely.
Why the illustration about a fire? I don't even have a fireplace in this house (and boy do I miss having one!). But fire symbolizes a lot of things. For me, right now, it's a symbol of purpose, faith, and a God-given dream. You have an inner fire, on one hand, and on the other hand you have a past with accomplishments and mistakes. If you see your past mistakes so clearly that you wince, you may be feeling the heat and the shame of those mistakes and not feeling the heat and warmth of your inner fire. You could get used to less warmth and encouragement. You could adjust to Less.
But God is a God of Expansion, of Redemption, of Grace, and then more grace. If we are disadvantaged through lost ground, mistakes, or a humiliating past, we can expect God to speak to us, as He does in Isaiah 54, words of encouragement and exhortation to expand, stretch out, don't hold back. Especially, don't look back expecting to see yourself still standing there in shame or humiliation.
It's as if I can see the Lord walking through my past with this torch of grace. He touches each sore spot as I am about to wince and cringe, and He calls out "Redeemed!" No one is there to hear Him say this except the Lord and me. I need to hear Him say that each spot, each place in my past where I fell or flubbed up, He will redeem. If He touches that sore spot with His torch, it will start blazing again with fire. It will be cleansed of its damaging pain and yield a sparkling truth.
I'm looking forward to the the truth setting me free. Aren't you?