Heavy Going by Eric Thompson
So it's almost the end of January, and to be honest I've found everything I've done this month to be particularly heavy going.
I did get a great deal accomplished in 2021 despite the obvious roadblocks to 'normal' life and I was certainly feeling exhaustion both mental and physical by the time December and the prospect of time off was around the corner.
Christmas was disrupted again and on top of that disappointment my wife and I both were unwell for a couple weeks each. Not the break either of us wanted however nothing much was lost as no one was seeing anyone so no real plans had to be cancelled.
We saw in the new year still feeling lousy and though my wife bounced back, she's unbelievably resilient and possesses superhuman strength, I never felt like I made a full recovery. Not so much in terms of my body but there was still something debilitating that I guess I tried to ignore and power through.
As a result everything I did was laborious, without conviction, unsatisfactory, frustrating and well below par. It wasn't until earlier today that I found the words to describe the situation, "I was just letting each day come."
But we wanna see the heart set free and the tyrants kneel
The walls fall down and our land be healed
But church if we want to see a change in the world out there
It's got to start right here
It's got to start right now
Lord, I'm starting right here
Lord, I'm starting right now
Last week we had our Final Friday (of the month) call at work and the topic was Resolutions and Goals. As part of the call we were all asked to complete a worksheet comprising of what we hope to achieve this year. I found this to be very helpful personally, and extremely motivating to listen to my team mates share and elaborate more about their goals.
I'd like to share my goals here as part of keeping myself accountable and well it starts me off in beginning to do one of them!
2022 - to be more intentional and consistent in everything I do.
HEALTH + WELLBEING
- Started a x12 week course with a PT followed by a consistent program (energy, strength, focus, injury prevention)
- Committed to reading more, listening to podcasts and writing in blog (name these, set action plan)
- Learn to play acoustic guitar
TRAVEL / ENTERTAINMENT
- First gig for a long time in March (was rescheduled from last year) w/best friend from school - Stereo MCs and we saw them together in 1993!
- Holiday to Turkey in May - Oludeniz, Fethiye
- Plan (and save) for a family Christmas away
WORK / FINANCIAL
- Develop my leadership skills (engage monthly with a mentor)
- Work remotely ‘x’ days a week
- Volunteering x4 hours twice a month
- Working on getting decking in the back garden in time for summer BBQs!
- Clear out the loft (convert it?) and garage.
- Buy less clothes and more records!
- Clean, protect and maintain the car(s).
Before the call I took the dog for a walk and put on a podcast that I've not spent anywhere near enough time on called The Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I'm a big fan of Craig as a pastor and a leader and delight in watching him preach on YouTube for Life Church. Whilst I have listened to the podcast in the past it wasn't with real intention or with a mindset of acting out the learnings. Following two twenty minute podcasts outside in beautiful sunshine the prospect of the year ahead had changed dramatically.
Looking back over the course of the month a few things stand out and remind me of God's presence in my life. Taken directly from our church newsletter on 23rd January as it perfectly summed up the guest preach -We were blessed by the visit of Lord Sentamu who spoke into Colossians 1:24 -2:5, with the powerful encouragement to us not to lose confidence and to trust the God who revealed Himself in Jesus. He defined hope as believing despite the evidence, and watching the evidence change. Lord Sentamu encouraged us to stop digging up the past with God, but to trust Him with our future, building our hope on the love and grace of the One who went to the cross for us.
Last week during Lifegroup there were a number of requests for those either in the middle of a storm or who could see the storm on the horizon, and so we ended in prayer for those that shared and one of the prayers included the request of God's promise to go ahead of us, and stand beside us in all circumstances. There are many verses for this promise:The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf...Deuteronomy 1:30
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 (NLT)
For the LORD will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Isaiah 45:2
One of the more general signs came amongst the reels suggested to me on Instagram, and having come up on several occasions I searched and found the video on YouTube to share.
I take it as another reminder for me to let go of last year, and like Lord Sentamu said leave the burdens of tomorrow behind and praise God for every new day. I take it to also mean leave behind the wins and losses too, and more importantly live the lessons learned and improvements made that enable me to go forward into the new year with love, integrity and hope.
In an amongst this I'm drawn to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:24-25 and the very powerful image of God with us:
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.
And finally I'm also reminded of this verse from Matthew 11:28-30 -
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I pray that God goes before you, and alongside you this coming week in all circumstances and that you lean in and feel his presence.