Booze? Nah. Crazy parties? Nah. Listening to famous singers on TV and watching the ball drop? Nah.
Once I became a follower of Jesus as a 19-year-old, I spent most New Year’s Eves in my church in Winston-Salem. We called them “Watch Night Services.” We were prayerfully “keeping watch” as the New Year came in.
I loved such services–anointed music, great preaching, a break for delicious snacks before praising in the New Year!
But since about 2002, I’ve been compelled to be in my hometown of Walnut Cove on New Year’s Eve–in the town that I am called by God to intercede for. After I helped start a church there in 2003, we began our own watch night services each Dec. 31. A couple of times we even held a revival during the last week of the year, finishing the final service at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Although I left that church in 2009, I still felt convicted to be in my town on this pivotal night of the year.
Then came the end of 2010. I had a huge desire to be in an anointed prayer/praise service on the last night of our calendar year. But my teenage son asked me to take him to a local church that was having simply food and games. Although I loved the church, I wasn’t thrilled to just play games and eat. It seemed carnal when I was yearning for spiritual.
But I felt from the Lord that I should be thankful for a 15-year-old son who wanted to be in a church on New Year’s Eve–even IF he was simply playing games. So I took him. When we were done with our fellowship and games, I dropped him off at his dad’s (his turn to have him) shortly before midnight. As I drove home through Walnut Cove, I put my hand out of the window into the frigid air and proclaimed blessings on this town that I adore.
Too soon, I was home–all alone, with my kids at their dad’s and my hubster at work. Quickly I turned off the car, thinking that I wanted to hurry in before the ball fell in Times Square. That is something I haven’t seen really since I was 19, having not been home at midnight since then.
Then it hit me: “Leslie, you wanted something so spiritual tonight. The ball falling isn’t wrong or anything, but it’s what the WORLD does on this day. YOU don’t want to do what the WORLD does; you want to do what GOD says to do.” You see, we Christians are not of this world. We are IN this world, but we are not OF this world. We are pilgrims and strangers passing through.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. . .” I John 2:15
So I sat in my car in the dark coldness, praying for wisdom from God on how to spend this symbolic night. Suddenly, I felt to turn on the radio which stays on 94.1 K-LOVE. I heard the Spirit of the Lord instruct me to take the first song that came on after midnight–in 2011–as my motto for the year. I became very excited, anxious to hear what song played.
The music started and these words came forth:
“Take this world from me
I don’t need it anymore
I am finally free
My heart is spoken for.”
It was so perfect that I nearly shouted! “Take this world from me; I don’t need it anymore.” That is what had been in my heart. God had confirmed exactly what I was strongly feeling.
Today–on Dec. 31, 2012–it has been two years since that wonderful New Year’s Eve when my Lord spoke to me through song. As I told our church group on Sunday morning, I still long to have more of the world taken from me by God. I yearn to be less worldly, less carnal and more spiritual.
Now, I don’t want to be so heavenly-minded that I’m no earthly good. Instead, I want to be so heavenly-minded that I am an ENORMOUS earthly good to all who need to hear the Gospel!
What is it in this world that takes your focus from God’s kingdom? Do you have too much going on in your life? Are you spread too thin? How can we have a single vision when we are pulled in so many different directions?
2013 is almost here. Why not turn our eyes upon Jesus and focus so solely on Him so that our every step in life is guided by His Spirit? If you are born again, you are already a spiritual being. Yet you live in a physical world. REMEMBER that despite your physical surroundings and fleshly temptations, you are primarily a spiritual, eternal being. You may go through a physical death one day, but you will live again. You are already eternal.
It’s all well and good to make lists of New Year’s resolutions. But as my very wise daughter Meghann intimated in church on Sunday, have you considered asking God to help you determine what those should be, lest we endeavor to fulfill them in our own strength? And then, why not ask Him throughout the year to help you meet those goals?
For example, you are craving Reese’s peanut butter cups (king-size pack–two measly cups, like 24 hours in a day, are never enough) and taco-flavored Doritos for lunch. However, you realize that this goes against your New Year’s dietary goals and is not the best option for a healthy body. It also is not exactly what your Creator would want for your lunch menu.
I usually consider two options:
A. Eat the Reese’s and Doritos and resolve to do better tomorrow
But there is an option C: pray for God to help me fight the temptation and even take the urge away from me. I will confess that I don’t usually go for option C, but in 2013 I intend to. I want my New Year’s resolution list today to be Spirit-led and my attempts to keep these resolutions throughout the year to be Spirit-enabled.
C’mon–join with me this year to say, “Take this world from me; I don’t need it anymore.” And let’s focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!
(Click on the link below to hear MercyMe’s great rendition of the song I heard to start 2011 and am again using as my motto for 2013!)