Tomorrow is unknown while we still reside in today. Unbelievably, a new year is only six weeks away. New years have a way of bringing new hope. We hope and dream about how it will turn out.
We must either wait or make preparations as we hope and dream. At times, we are called to rest. Other times, we are called to prepare. Either way, we can trust God.
Even though we may not know the future, God will often tell us what we can do in the waiting. This week I’m getting a bit deep and heavy because I’m looking to go deeper in 2020. I’m excited and ready to see what God does.
In 2020, He may ask me to…
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10, ESV)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41, NIV)
Knowing which is a matter of remaining in prayer and continuing to search the scriptures for wisdom.
God asks for our obedience in both rest and action.
Consecration as preparation
God will sometimes ask us to take a more active role to prepare ourselves. In the book of Joshua, when the Israelites are finally ready to cross the Jordan River, God spoke clearly.
After so many years of aimless wandering, straying from His plan, and complaining, it was time for the journey to end. Their next step was going to be amazing, but they had to prepare.
“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:1–5, NIV)
The act of consecration is both physical and spiritual. Matthew Henry’s commentary on the Bible explains:
“See what preparation we must make to receive the discoveries of God’s glory and the communications of his grace: we must sanctify ourselves. This we must do when we are to attend the ark, and God by it is about to do wonders among us; we must separate ourselves from all other cares, devote ourselves to God’s honour, and cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. The people of Israel were now entering into the holy land and therefore must sanctify themselves.”
In expectant faith of a new tomorrow and blessings long-hoped-for, God asked the Israelites to prepare themselves. Just as we prepare ourselves for a job interview, a wedding, or some other important function, so should we prepare ourselves as we look toward a new year with anticipation of what God will do.
Consecrating ourselves has no influence over God’s decision to act. However, the preparedness it brings allows us to be attuned to His voice. It helps ready us to receive the blessing. If we don’t prepare our hearts and set ourselves apart from the noise of this busy world, we could miss what God is doing. Even worse, we might not fully appreciate it when it comes.
How will you consecrate?
How will you prepare for the wonders and blessings that 2020 holds? What distractions can you say no to? Is there an area in your life that is not of true eternal significance that you need to let go? Do you need to reprioritize or surrender in new ways?
These are hard questions I had to ask myself. I had to ask God too. He answered me and showed me.
For me, fasting social media, diving deeper into the word, and inclining my ear in prayer are the ways I am choosing to consecrate myself as 2020 approaches. It’s hard work. In late December, I’ll disconnect from the world and connect more deeply with God. The first part of the new year will be a time of quiet contemplation with the Lord.
My human nature rails against these things because they require discipline. The very things that are best for me are usually the things that are hardest to do.
Even though it can be difficult, press on. The eternal benefits are great. Dig in and set yourself apart, listening and waiting for what God wants to do in your life in 2020. You’ll find the journey is sometimes as satisfying as the destination. Any effort we make to obey the Lord is never wasted.