The Annual Ritual

With the new year upon us, there is a tendency to want to add a healthy habit or subtract an unhealthy one. The options run from the secular (I will exercise more, I will eat more vegetables, I will stop checking my iPhone so often) to the spiritual (I will pray more, I will read the Bible every day). The list of possibilities is long, isn’t it? It is an annual ritual, this taking stock of our lives and considering what we can change to be better people. Honestly, I don’t make these resolutions anymore. Probably because I don’t follow through with them and they seem like adding one more thing to my already-long to do list. That isn’t to say that I have “arrived” and don’t need to make any changes! The more I know about God and myself, the more He shows me how far I have to go. For some people, the new year is a good time to engage a new habit or fight an old one. Others are just trying to hold on and have no capacity for any sort of change.

A New Challenge for A New Year

Betty Ellen Cox’s grammar books are still the standard after decades of use

Betty Ellen Cox's grammar books are still the standard after decades of use

Janette and I are embarking on a few weeks of Kirundi study. Kirundi is so hard. And yet without any Kirundi, we find ourselves isolated in this small country. We can get by with French with our medical colleagues and students but if we want to hear patients in their heart language, it must be in Kirundi. If we want to offer comfort to the hurting, it is going to happen in Kirundi. I’m finding that I need to make space in my mind for this language. I hope it doesn’t mean that my French leaks out but that is a distinct possibility! If Kirundi is to have a chance to take root, I have to take away some of the distractions. This might have spiritual implications as well…

Can You Hear Me Now?

One of the lessons that I’ve been learning in recent days (from Dallas Willard and the Celtic Daily Prayer book) is that if I want God to change me, I need to be available. If transformation is my goal, I not only need to have a vision for what could be but also create the “space” for that to become a reality. Waiting on God, listening in silence, simplifying my tastes and lifestyle- it seems like these both require and create space. If I have no margin in my life because of over-committing or inundation with technology or constant noise, it is nearly impossible to hear God. But once I take even some small steps toward carving out some time for quiet and contemplation, I find that more space is created and I will desire even more of that oasis in my day.

Thank you for praying for us as we resume some language study and try to find space in the medical work for that. Where in your life are you in need of space? What if you are being led to say “No” to something? Maybe like me you are over New Year’s resolutions. But perhaps this new year can prompt all of us to take another listen to God and his Word. I want to seek Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. God help me. God help us.