My first blog of the year! Yay!
Have you ever heard the phrase, “A for effort”? I’m sure you have. I always thought it was a cute way of saying, “You suck at life. Good try though.” Last night, I realized that I was so wrong.
I really hate talking on the phone. Mostly because I have a soft, small voice with a really thick Southern accent. So either people can’t hear me and they’re constantly asking me to repeat myself OR the Alabama twang in my voice is so pungent, they can’t understand me; thus constantly asking me to repeat myself. I do have a point to saying all of this. I am blessed to have really cool friends. I mostly text them, but on the rare occasion of phone calls they’re always full of little nuggets of wisdom.
Last night was one of those full moon nights where I had a phone conversation with one of my favorite people in the world. Mr. Claude Ball (click that link for his awesome website) said this last night. I can’t remember the full quote, so here is the Tashara paraphrase, “If someone is in Christ their heart will lean towards the truth. They will seek out the truth above all else.”
My response to this?
“Yes! Now that’s a word. That’s a message right there!” At the moment, I was being silly, but also serious.
How many of you began the year with delusions and lies? Those of us who are in Christ have probably over committed ourselves at church, YouVersion Bible reading plans, and the infamous Daniel fast to start the year off dedicating ourselves to suffering for the gospel. You probably don’t even know much about Daniel or why he was only eating fruits and vegetables. You might even think he fought Goliath. None of that matters though. What matters at the beginning of a new year is commitment.
Then you fail.
A for effort!
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12: 2 (NLT)
Make a conscious effort.
So once this wonderful conversation was over at 1 am, I lay in bed thinking about seeking the truth and I kept going back to the phrase, “Make a conscious effort.” This was followed by, “But what if I fail?”
What exactly does conscious mean?
Conscious (adj): Intentional. Considered and deliberate or done with critical awareness.
Those who know me, know that the past few years of my life have been an absolute beautiful disaster. I didn’t make a resolution at the beginning of the year. Instead, I consciously decided to get out a shovel, dig through all of the crap, and clean out my closet. We get so caught up in being better and doing better that we forget spraying perfume into a trash can only works temporarily. Eventually, you have to take out the trash AND clean out the trash can.
Because I am in Christ, as Claude reminded me last night, I have a propensity toward the truth. I desire whatever God desires for me. Now, I might not like what it is at the time (i.e. still living in Raleigh) but His thoughts are nothing like mine. His ways are far beyond anything I can imagine. Though his thoughts are higher than mine, God is so gracious and because He wants me to be like Him, He changes my thoughts. He transforms little ol’ me into a much better (righteous) version of me. Then He takes time to teach me and show me His will. His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Let that sit in for a minute.
God says, “Forget resolutions. I’ll change your thoughts, then change you and teach you my perfect will for you. I’ll show my plans that are for good and not evil. My plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future. Just make a conscious effort and then let me work.”
The coolest thing about all of this is when you fail (because you’re human and you will), the world doesn’t end. God doesn’t shun you. He doesn’t turn a deaf ear to you. He looks at you and says, “Hey son. Hey daughter. A for effort! Tomorrow you will have another chance to get it right. You will wake up to brand new mercies and a clean slate. Tomorrow, make a conscious effort.”
I have the best part time job. It takes up my weekends and sometimes my weekdays, but it’s incredible. I tutor children in English. Not only do I get to read the most imaginative stories, I am able to watch as children improve in reading, in writing and in confidence. I have a six year old student whom I am so enamored with. She is so intelligent and so lovely, but does not know it. Yesterday, I had to tell her father that she has to believe that she’s an awesome reader. She has to believe that she’s smart and can conquer anything. I’m a great tutor, but this is something I can’t fix. I can help. I can force feed her affirmations (and I do), but nothing will happen until she believes it.
Today, she made a conscious effort to focus and do better. She didn’t read every word swiftly or spell every sight word correctly, but that did not take away from her effort.
Each day make a conscious effort to intentionally seek out the truth. Be so aware of Who is leading you that you cannot even see outside of His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Do not clutter your thoughts with failure, fears, and doubts. At the end of this, all that matters is hearing, “Well done thy good and faithful servant. Well done despite failures, despite fears and doubts, despite the times you wanted to (and maybe did) give up. Because of you made a conscious effort and allowed me to work, well done.”
Make a conscious, intentional, considered and deliberate effort and watch how that is multiplied into something greater than what you can ask or think.