Leaning Into Grace: surrendering to God’s way & revealing my word for 2022
Do you ever feel like you’re missing out?
Like you only have a certain amount of time to accomplish everything you want to before time runs out?
I’ve had that nagging feeling lately as 2022 draws near. This silent sense of anxiety simmering under the surface of my heart and mind.
I sat down yesterday afternoon to fill out my 2022 Horacio Printing planner. It’s my favorite planner for a number of reasons, one of them being because it’s not just a planner. It doesn’t just get you to think about your professional goals, but it challenges you to evaluate every part of who you are and all areas of your life.
My favorite thing about the planner though is that it always points to Jesus. It encourages you to dream with Jesus and move forward with your goals, visions, and rhythms in Jesus. In fact, the verse this year in the opening pages of the planner is John 15:4, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
Goal planning has never really been my thing up until about a year ago when I decided to purchase my first Horacio planner. There was a sort of excitement and anticipation that came with learning how to dream with God.
As 2021 unfolded – and big changes began to happen – some of those goals got accomplished, while others kind of fell to the wayside of life.
We sold our house, moved in with my parents for a time, bought a new house, and struggled to adjust to the realities of being newbies in a new city. Some other things were unearthed throughout the process and towards the latter half of the year, which only pushed some of those goals and dreams for 2021 even further from my mind.
The Lord Chooses Your Steps
So, as I sat down yesterday to plan out 2022, I approached it with a bit of anxiety, but also with a bit of something like surrender. Which also gave me anxiety. For those who know me, and for those who don’t, I tend to be a little bit of a control freak.
Planning out a course of action and putting my dreams and goals down on a piece of paper is something I can get behind! But the actual real-life part? The in-between, unforeseen, can’t really fill in the blanks because you don’t know what the answers are yet, part? Yeah, I don’t like that so much.
I like the comfort and stability of having a plan. But 2020 and 2021 both taught me that everything in life almost always does not go according to plan.
As I sat there with pen in hand with my planner sprawled out in front of me, writing out Scripture verses to combat a few fears I want to tackle this year, I realized that perhaps life not going according to plan isn’t always a bad thing. After all, Proverbs 16:9 reminds us that while we plan, God orchestrates, “Within your heart, you can make plans for your future, but the Lord chooses the steps you take to get there.” (TPT)
I’m called to have a plan, I think planning is wise and that God created us with longings and desires and dreams and we were meant to pursue them and put them into action.
But this year, instead of running headfirst into 2022, I want to lean into Christ.
A Heart Surrendered
I want to lean into the new year with a heart surrendered – no matter how scary that might be – because the reality is, I am not in total control. Remaining under the delusion that I am causes me to miss all the ways in which God is moving right now. It causes me to miss out on what He’s trying to teach me through the unexpected, and what He wants to give me in the unforeseen.
Because there are gifts to unwrap even in the detours of life.
The anxiety I feel about not having enough time, about missing out on what I want, is nothing but a lie. It’s self-focused, and misconstrued because the truth is if I’m remaining in Christ – abiding in Him – then wherever I end up is exactly where I’m supposed to be because He’s with me.
And whatever I’m doing, as long as I’m doing it with Jesus, is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Even if it’s not where I thought I would end up, or what I thought I wanted, it will be good because God’s heart is good and He wants good things for me.
With all of this in mind, I want to lean into the new year with grace.
My Word for 2022
Which is why I chose grace as my word for 2022. Admittedly, I fought against it at first. It might sound silly, but the word makes me uncomfortable. The idea of grace irks me because it’s something I’ve never really figured out how to receive fully.
I’m saved, and I know that the only way to salvation is through Jesus and the price He paid on the cross at Calvary. I know that it’s by His grace alone that I am saved. But if I’m truly honest with myself and you, do I believe grace?
I know it to be true, but have I received it?
And a better question yet is, do I live as if I believe in the grace of God?
If I truly sit down to search my heart and reflect, the way I treat myself and talk to myself doesn’t testify to grace. The way I respond in anger to my husband or frustration to those who fail doesn’t testify to grace. The way I compare myself, judge myself and others, battle jealousy, and shame myself for doing all of it does not testify to grace.
The way I respond to the unforeseen and uncertain doesn’t testify to grace, and believing that I’ve somehow run out of time, or have some kind of time limit leaves absolutely no room for grace.
Because a huge foundation of grace is believing the best about God even when facing the worst. It’s believing that even at my absolute worst, God still calls me His. Even in the middle of massive failures, hurts, hangups, and – you guessed it – the unexpected parts of life.
Learning to Receive Grace
Learning to receive grace means learning how to be gentle, compassionate, kind, and humble – not just with others, but with myself, too.
Learning how to receive grace requires a fair amount of surrender, which if you recall me telling you earlier, gives me anxiety. Because surrender is an open admission that this life really isn’t mine, but His. And surrender is an invitation to God to take me by the hand and lead me in His way, and not my own.
It’s accepting that while I make my plans, God really is the One who establishes my steps and decides how I get there and when.
And I’m going to need a whole lot of grace for that.
But, you know what? As I slowly let go, as I finally surrender closed fists, peace finds me where anxiety once lived. The control I thought I wanted, believed I needed to keep me safe, is actually the thing that keeps me from experiencing God to the fullest.
Because once you learn to let go, you have room to receive grace.
An Invitation to Lean In
So, instead of striving into the new year, I’m choosing to lean in.
Will join me?
Will you join me in asking the Lord to teach us what it looks like to be at peace with Him establishing our steps and what it looks like to have grace for ourselves in the moments when we don’t?
Will you join me in holding out empty hands to the One Who gently fills them?
Will you choose to believe today that there is grace and hope in it all; in our dreams, plans, and goals, and even in the unexpected?
Friend, I pray it to be a year of unraveling the gift of grace and learning how to receive it in full measure, just as it was intended to be received.
And I pray that if your life right now isn’t what you expected it to look like, or if you feel like you’re slowly or abruptly running out of time, or you somehow feel behind, you’ll come to believe the truth that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and as long as you go with God as He goes with you, everything really will be alright.
Abide in Him, and He will abide in you. And as you learn to abide, as you learn to surrender to His ways, may your heart grow lighter.
May grace carry you into the new year as you lean into Christ, and may you be brave enough to dream amidst the unforeseen.