Every year I focus on a word or phrase. I start looking for the word around October and by December it is clear to me what my focus will be for the coming year. I start trying to find a word of my choosing but over the years it has been chosen for me. There will be a word that keeps showing up in my reading, prayers, meditations, and conversations. Some years I am quite happy with the word that is chosen for me and I look forward to learning and growing with pleasant anticipation. Some years like this past year, 2013, my anticipation is a bit anxious. My word for this past year was PURITY.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Believe me purity is not a word I would have willingly chosen for myself. I know I am far from pure of heart and I knew in January the year 2013 was going to be one of hard work and tears and frustration. I tried to find a different word but the Spirit was adamant and kept the word front and center for weeks; so purity it was.
I learned a lot about myself this year. I knew before and have had it confirmed; I do not have a pure heart. But I did not know just how impure it is until I began this year-long journey and found out just how lacking I am in this virtue. This year I learned that my heart harbors anger, rebellion, bitterness, unkindness, selfishness…the list goes on…it is a long list.
But God is good and He has given me His Spirit as a Helper. He has shown me not only the bad and ugly but has shown me the good, too. I have learned that my negativity is aggressive and my positive traits are passive. In reality the negative is not stronger but does often overshadow the positive because it is so ingrained. I have accepted the negative for so long that it has been comfortable for me to live in its nasty shadow.
The past year has been one of many battles and I admit that there were times I was tired of always being on alert and sensitive to what I was thinking and believing. There were times when the negative thoughts and habits would pour through and out of me and all I could think of was the hideous and ugly sin that was my life for so long. Thoughts of my past would flood my being and I would feel worthless and hopeless. I just wanted to give up.
Then the Spirit would remind me that I have been forgiven by my Lord and the ugliness has been washed away and forgotten. He would show me how to sweep away the negative and let the positives of life fill the newly empty places in my heart. He would remind me that Satan cannot be in the same place as the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Is my heart pure and clean today? No. But some serious housekeeping has been done and continues on. There are still nooks and crannies that need attention. The task does not seem overwhelming anymore because I know it is not just me and my mop and bucket. I have a Helper who supplies the extra strength disinfectant cleaner.
And there are the regular appointments with my Wonderful Counselor who tells me,
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
He is an amazing God! He renews a steadfast spirit within me. To Him all the glory!
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
Blessings this day of grace,