Cards on the table: I’ve never done this before.
I’ve made a ton of New Years Resolutions. Some stick. Some don’t. And I don’t agree with the crowd that thinks resolutions are stupid because you don’t keep them. If you want to commit to a resolution, then commit to it. Change your habits and make it happen!
So why is 2015 different? Why does it require a one-word theme?
If we don’t know each other, here’s a quick intro. My name is Mark. I’m 31, married to an amazing woman named, Christi, and I have three kids. I’m strongly considering keeping at least one of them.
My family and I have lived in Arkansas for the last 7 years doing student ministry. In September, we packed our lives away in a truck and moved 12 hours away to Columbus, Ohio to plant a church.
And planting a church is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve worked harder than I ever have.
On things I’m not good at.
To start something I’m incredibly passionate about.
That doesn’t currently exist.
It requires legal paperwork, incredible balance, and a steadfast focus on a family who have just left their friends in the rear view mirror. I work in an unfinished basement, in which my kids bust in every 5 minutes while I’m on the phone making fundraising calls. It’s legitimately cute one out of every fifteen times.
It’s a stressful thing to start something from nothing. Hence the need for the theme.
Every once in a while, I come up for air and have a moment to sit and think. A couple times, my thoughts have been less than encouraging.
“This isn’t as fun as I thought it would be.”
“I didn’t know it would be this hard.”
“Am I going to be a failure?”
“Everyone is going to laugh if this doesn’t work.”
“When does it get easier?”
In those moments, I cling to Jesus tightly. I know that HE is with me and that this is HIS mission and HIS people. I know that God will see this through!
So when I had a couple moments to think about what the one-word theme might be, I started thinking about all the fun ones.
Those are energizing, right? They make you want to get out and take the world by storm! But I knew those weren’t right for me. At least not this year.
Because what I need right now isn’t to man up.
So many times in Scripture, great men of God were merely men who trusted in their great God. There would be trouble. They would pray and ask for God to help. They would experience a miracle of God. And then, before they just rushed past the miracle, they would set up a memorial.
When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
Did you catch that? He said, “When your children ask you what these stones mean to you.”
When people ask how you made it through the illness.
When people ask how dealt with that crisis.
When people ask how you kept your head up with that loss.
When people ask, point to the memorial and remember what God did.
My theme for this year is REMEMBER.
Remember that God miraculously saved you at 16 years old.
Remember that He walked with you through hard times (even before you were ready to surrender your life.
Remember that He never once left you on your own.
Remember that His promises are true.
Remember that He’s not done with you.
Remember that He is intimately aware of your pain.
Remember that He is walking with you, even today.
Remember that He hears your prayers.
Remember that, before you were walking through your struggle today, He sent His Son to die on a cross 2,000 years ago, so that you might be able to cry out to Him.
Remember that He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, and He hasn’t given up on you.
This year, I want to be great at setting up memorials. My friend Patrick Martin calls these, “stone-stacker moments.” I don’t want to rush past the work of God. I’ll journal and reflect more, being careful to intently watch the bush burn.
Also, my prayer this year is that my identity won’t get lost in the whirlwind of church-planting. Or whatever mess I’m in. I’m a follower of Jesus, a husband, and a dad first. I refuse to let the demands of this life distract me from the few callings that God has placed on my life that matter the most!