Jan. 3, today, is just about my least favorite day of the year. Christmas is done, but bills (for those of us who were perhaps a bit too generous) and excess holiday poundage remains. The tree must come down, and a long, cold winter stretches out for months ahead of us (in colder climates, at least).
All that can feel more than a little depressing. But on the bright side, the new year offers a natural chance for a fresh start, grace to try again in areas where we fell short in the last year. For better or worse, many of us make New Year’s resolutions. And our willingness to do so offers, I think, evidence of how much we long for permission to try again, to make a new stab at curbing bad habits or starting healthier ones.
As Christians, I think the new year offers a terrific time to consider where we’ve been, spiritually speaking, in the last 12 months. And today I’d like to suggest one area worthy of our attention as we launch in earnest into 2012: how well we’re trusting God.
Many of us may have resolved to dig deeper into spiritual disciplines such as reading and meditating more regularly on Scripture this year, or praying more or perhaps asking trusted friends for help when it comes to shedding an addiction or compulsive behavior. As we seek to surrender ourselves to God more fully in those areas, I think it’s also critically important to actively reflect on where we’re at when it comes to trusting God.
I was prompted to think about trust last week by an encounter I had with my 17-month-old daughter, Maggie. Her mom had just left the room, and Maggie — a true mamma’s girl — wasn’t happy at all. She was screaming, in fact, because she wanted mommy and she was stuck with me.
Now, one of the things Maggie loves is when I play quite physically with her. She loves when I toss her up in the air a bit, when I spin her around. In an attempt to calm her down, I started spinning in circles and singing to her.
Initial result: Total resistance. Maggie didn’t want to be with me, and she didn’t want to stop crying. She was stiff as a board and seemed determined to outlast my attempts to calm her down.
But I just kept spinning around, her torso cradled in one arm, her head in my other hand.
A few seconds later, she relaxed, letting the full weight of her head rest in my hand. Then she started laughing. And when I tried to quit, she let me know that she wanted me to keep spinning her around.
It was a remarkable illustration of how quickly a little one like her can shift from total resistance and defiance to trust and delight, just happy to be with her daddy (even though it took her a minute). Her trust and delight were total and they were pure, and that moment brought deep joy to my heart.
I couldn’t help but think of my own relationship with God. How often am I stiff-backed and screaming, spiritually speaking, unwilling to rest in trust in His arms, determined to keep pitching a tantrum until I get my way? Why is it so hard for me to trust at certain times, in certain seasons, with certain issues?
While we may not be able to sift out absolute answers to questions like those, I think it is worth considering why each of us may struggle, at times, to trust God. As you enter into this new year, I’d invite you to ponder the following questions when it comes to trusting your heavenly Father.
Has anything happened circumstantially in the last year that has undermined my trust in God’s heart toward me? If so, how did I respond?
Am I wrestling with lingering disappointment over some area of my life (career, singleness, health, infertility, financial struggles, etc.) If so, how am I talking to God — or not — about these areas of struggle?
Who am I talking to honestly about how I’m doing spiritually?
What passages of Scripture help remind me of God’s character and good heart toward me in difficult times? What, if anything, do I need to do to cling to those truths more tenaciously this year?
No matter where we’re at spiritually, no matter how mature we may be, there’s always room to grow in our trust of God’s heart toward us. I pray that 2012 can be a year of growth and renewed trust in your own relationship with Him.