Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Year of the Good Portion

I've been waiting to write this post. Partially because I wanted to get past the boys' birthday blowout (haha), but mostly because the year always starts in this glow of newness when the power of ideas and words carries you smoothly over the rough patches and I wanted to wait until the nitty gritty hit, until the going got tough, because it's easy to talk when things are going the way you want them and perhaps not so easy when you are coming up against your weakness and sin nature in the day-to-day.

Let me back up. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. I like to talk through the last year and maybe write some goals for the new year, but actually making a resolution (that I'll probably break within the next three weeks) is not quite my cup of tea. As a perfectionist, it's difficult to even set goals that I may or may not be able to meet--yes, this is a fear problem in my life--but I read about the idea of naming the year to come, and so I began praying, praying about what to name this coming year--in hope.

{I want so badly to share my heart with you about this, but I feel that the words are coming out disjointed, stilted. Bear with me?}

I considered the Year of Light. And then the Year of Boldness. And then the Year of Purpose. But as I laid them out before the Lord, none of them seemed like quite what my heart needed. Then, as I prayed, I happened to read again the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, and verse 42 jumped out at me, these words:
Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.
And it tugged at me. Something about the wording was different. What did it mean that she'd chosen the good portion?  In truth, the word "portion" has always been one of my favourites; I love the passage in Lamentations 3 that reads:
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
So I went through my Bible and studied the word "portion". It was used a lot more in the Old Testament when God was dividing up what went where (and to whom) in the Promised Land, so I sludged through a lot of verses in Deuteronomy and Numbers that made my eyeballs want to fall out. The one interesting thing I found there, though, was that, for the Levites, God really was their literal portion and the rest of the Israelites were required give a portion (again!) of what they had in order to care for their Levite brothers. I also learned that I could take my portion lightly, that I could give it away or waste it, that I could even chose it from the wrong source (Joshua 22). And I learned that trusting in lies limits my portion (Jer. 13:25).

Then there were countless references of God being our portion (like the one in Lamentations 3:24, and also Psalm 16:5 and Psalm 73:26), which was what I think Jesus was referring to when he told Martha that Mary had "chosen the good portion". You see, when Mary chose to sit down and listen to what Jesus was saying, she wasn't choosing not to help Martha or to be lazy or even to be intellectual and bold (for a woman at the time), what she was choosing, what she was taking as her portion, was Jesus. He was the good portion.  It wasn't about making a legalistic choice or a spiritual choice or a right versus wrong choice; it was simply about choosing Jesus. And that's what I want from this year.

The truth is that it's easy for me to get bogged down in To Do lists and legalism and perfectionism. On the flip side, it's easy for me to get lost in laziness and guilt and my endlessly awful entertainment addiction. And for me, it's cyclical. I try hard to do everything right and then get overwhelmed so I crash and then I feel guilty so I try to hide from the guilt in either more slothfulness or more sweat and struggle.

This year, I don't want that.

This year, I want the good portion. This year, I want Jesus.

And some days that means getting up before the sun and just being with Him. And some days that means snuggling in bed with my Little Man and reading Winnie the Pooh (because didn't He say, "Let the little children come to me"?). And some days that means putting His words before myself over and over again, even in those heated moments when I discover Littles stealing Tiny's toy, or Tiny destroying yet another one of my books, or a tornado struck room that two seconds earlier had been neatly picked up (yes, I just called my sons tornadoes).

But it doesn't mean more rules. It doesn't include the words "I will never" or "I will always". It doesn't mean I'm always going to be perfect and always be right and never get angry (which is good because I would definitely have blown it today). It just means that whenever it comes to mind, I'm going to make the choice to draw near to Jesus, whatever that happens to look like, in whatever moment I'm in, and that that will be enough.

So check back with me in June, and ask me if I'm still choosing the good portion or if I've settled for something that might not be that bad but just isn't Jesus.

And thanks for letting me get these words out (I promise more eloquence on the next post) because I know there is power in speaking my heart aloud, if only to hold myself accountable. 

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