With the dawn of a new year looming less than a week away, this is a natural time for self-evaluation, reflection and planning. Regardless of our plans for 2011, we would do well to remember the wise warning of James 4:13-15.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Could I ask you a personal question? Has 2010 been more like a desert or an oasis?
For some of us, 2010 has been like a desolate wasteland. We feel isolated and hopeless. We’ve wondered what the point of it all is. We’ve trudged from one happiness-promising-mirage to another and repeatedly ended up with handfuls of sand. We’re bitter, calloused and pessimistic.
For some of us, 2010 has been like an oasis. Having wasted and wandered in the past, we’ve made the discovery of a lifetime, and it has made all the difference. We’ve been led beside still waters and made to lie down in green pastures. Our souls are thriving. We’re joyful, content and optimistic.
What about you? Has 2010 been more like a desert or an oasis? Regardless of your answer, there is good news. Life in 2011 can be more abundant and fruitful than you’ve ever imagined. There is a living God who is willing to lead us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
__________ He turns rivers into a desert,
_______________ springs of water into thirsty ground,
__________ a fruitful land into a salty waste,
_______________ because of the evil of its inhabitants.
__________ He turns a desert into pools of water,
_______________ a parched land into springs of water.
__________ And there he lets the hungry dwell,
_______________ and they establish a city to live in;
__________ they sow fields and plant vineyards
_______________ and get a fruitful yield.
__________ By his blessing they multiply greatly,
and he does not let their livestock diminish. (Psalm 107:33-38
He can turn the desert of 2010 into the living spring of 2011. Hope is available through a healthy, vibrant, consistent connection to him. I’ll have more to say about that in the next few days, but here is the point for today: desert-to-oasis transformation begins with a very specific posture of heart.
__________ O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
_______________ my soul thirsts for you;
__________ my flesh faints for you,
_______________ as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
__________ So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
_______________ beholding your power and glory.
__________ Because your steadfast love is better than life,
_______________ my lips will praise you.
__________ So I will bless you as long as I live;
_______________ in your name I will lift up my hands.
__________ My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
_______________ and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
__________ when I remember you upon my bed,
_______________ and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
__________ for you have been my help,
_______________ and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
__________ My soul clings to you;
_______________ your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63:1-8)
If the desert of 2010 is ever to turn into the living spring of 2011, you have to decide whether or not you’re tired of choking down sand. Are you thirsty for God? Not just casually thirsty—looking for refreshment on your own terms and in your own time—but so parched that your soul is eager to cling to him as your greatest treasure? For 2011 to be the year of abundant oasis, you’ve got to be desperate for more of God.
Are you desperate?