"One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple."
-Psalm 27:4 (NASB)
For a long time, I was a resolutions person. Each year when January 1st rolled around, I would come up with a list of all things I resolved to do over the next 365 days. Sometimes I succeeded, most times I failed. Yet each year, as the clock neared midnight on December 31st, I prepared myself for a fresh start filled with good resolutions.
2014 was the first year in recent memory that I didn't make any resolutions. I was tired. I was weary and life had run me down and more so than anticipating the new year with baited breath, I was desperate for it. Desperate for something new. Desperate for a change. Desperate for a fresh start.
Unofficially, my word for 2014 became 'trust.' I told Jesus I didn't care what else He did in my life that year, but I wanted 2014 to be the year I learned how to trust. And boy did He take me up on that. The next 365 days were filled with moment after moment where I had to pause, reflect, and consciously choose to trust that He knew what He was doing rather than run away in fear. It was a growing year, a stretching year, and without a doubt one of the most formative years of my young adult life. Possibly my whole life. But I won't know that for sure for quite some time.
In 2015, I decided to once again do away with resolutions and choose a word I wanted to shape my year. With no resolutions to fail at and simply a word to guide my thoughts and actions, 2014 had turned out to be one of the best years of my life. So I rang in 2015 with anticipation and a word in my head and on my heart: risk.
It was another year of big things and big changes. My lessons in trust from 2014 were put to good use as I repeatedly chose risk over safety in things like jobs, living situations, and business. Over and over again, I found myself stepping forward where I previously wouldn't have and saying, "Lord, I trust that you will catch me if I fall."
As 2015 came to a close, I found myself desiring quiet in my heart.
Trust and risk are big words. They're words that require action and movement. And the Lord had certainly been acting and moving over the last two years. He'd moved in huge ways and taught me tons of lessons, big and small. To be honest, I felt a little exhausted from it all and as I prepared myself to enter a new year, I felt disconnected.
I hadn't spent time in the Word consistently in months. My desire to read Scripture and pray was practically nonexistent. My desire to be at church or small group had more to do with the people I would see there than a meeting with my Savior. Something was up and I needed to figure out how to get back.
As I contemplated what I wanted 2016 to look like, a variety of words and goals and resolution-type things rolled through my head. But one stood out: seek.
When I stumbled upon the word, I mulled it over for a few days. Verse after verse filled my head from the Old and New Testaments. Words of the prophets of long ago, filled with longing and a deep desire for tangible connection with the One who created them.
One phrase in particular kept popping into my head: one thing I ask and I would seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
It's a line from a song, adapted from a verse in Psalm 27. And as that thought rolled around in my brain, I knew I'd found my word for 2016.
I haven't done much study on how the word 'seek' is used in Scripture yet, though I plan to in the months to come. But as I've contemplated the word and how I hope it will shape my year, another verse keeps coming to mind.
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
- Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
When I was a kid, I loved the idea of that verse. From my naive and rather selfish perspective, it was simple: I needed to delight myself in the Lord and He would give me all the things I dreamed of.
As I grew older and matured, I realized, on some level, it is that simple, but for reasons other than I believed.
What I've learned is that seeking is a cyclical thing.
Scripture says we will find God when we seek Him with all our hearts. When we ask, it will be given. When we knock, the door will be opened. All these promises require a bit of action and initiative on our part, but the desire for that action comes first from the God we desire to seek. And the reality of of Psalm 37:4 is that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He does give us the desires of our heart because the more we delight ourselves in Him, the more His desires for us become our desires for us.
But in the end, it doesn't matter what He gives us. Because in the seeking, we find the thing our heart truly desires most, though we often don't recognize it: Him. In the seeking, we find that the goal wasn't a specific end, but rather the journey itself.
There are things I hope will happen in 2016. Personal goals, some of which I've had for years, that I hope will come to fruition before another December 31st passes by.
I hope to find a job I love with people I love. I hope to get back into a consistent schedule with my writing. I hope to finally lose the weight I've been talking about losing for nearly a decade. And when I'm most honest with myself, I hope to find my husband this year as well.
But when I think about what I really want for the year 2016, it's to seek and find.
I may end the year with all the things I hope for — a great job I love, success in my writing, a lighter and healthier body, and the man I've dreamed of for years — but if I accomplish all those things independent of seeking the Lord, it will mean nothing. And if I finish the year still working a job I don't love, with a still inconsistent writing schedule, still holding the excess weight, and still single...but I have sought the Lord and I can truly say that I delight myself in Him? Oh, what a success the year will have been.
Admittedly, the above statements are sometimes more intellectual than I'd like them to be. I'm still wading my way through that disconnect and finding my way back. There are still a lot of days where I'm afraid of what seeking with all my heart will mean and it seems safer to aim for the tangible goals of a new job and a thinner body.
I don't always want to seek the Lord with all my heart. I don't always want to delight myself in Him. I don't always believe this year will be a success if I don't accomplish any of my goals.
But I want to want to seek the Lord. I want to want to delight myself in Him. I want to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt this year will be a success if I do nothing else but know and love the Lord better.
And it is my prayer that by the end of the year, those ideas are no longer an intellectual thing I have to tell myself every day, but those repeated truths will have birthed in me an unquenchable desire to know and love the Lord better.
If that is so, 2016 will no doubt have been a success.
image via minimography