This is the editorial text from my last Crucible Newsletter (which you can sign up for here) which I'm posting now before the February edition goes out tomorrow!
Last month I spoke in the Crucible about cultivating new habits, one of which, for me, is to write more. Rather than seeing the newsletter as a separate activity, I'm posting last month's 'message' here as part of my ongoing thinking and if you don't get my newsletter (which you can if you sign up here ;-) ) then you can read it on the blog instead!
This time of year brings with it renewed expectancy and discipline - or does it? I'm not a huge fan of the New Year Resolutions fad - they always seem to be something decided on in a fit of excitement or to join in with the crowd but they can end up being a bit of a rod to beat ourselves with by about the 10th January!
So, following my friend Will's example, I'm liking the phrase 'New Year Habits'. A habit is something we seek to develop with good intention, but it is something that takes practise, effort and isn't a short term fix or fad. It's something we can pick up again even when it isn't all going to plan. It probably also involves having others involved to help us out and keep us in check. Dictionary definitions tell me that 'habit' means: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. 'I have got into the habit of....'
That all seems to be to be much more realistic for a Disciple of Jesus - at no point in the Gospels does Jesus suggest that Peter or John or Andrew are going to 'get' what he is teaching them immediately. He teaches, shows them what he means and then gets them to do it for themselves...and sometimes it goes well; other times, not so much! (Feeding of the 5000, sending out the 72 for example...) By the time we read Acts, those first disciples have very definitely got into the habit of following Jesus, but not without a few bumps along the way!
What new habits do you need to get in place in your life right now? And who might you need to help you out with those things? What is God prompting you in at the moment?
A new, repeated habit for me is to do more writing. My husband bought me my own website for Christmas - www.alicesmith.co.uk so I have a place to condense my (irregular) blogging in 2 places with some of the other projects and resources I'm involved in too. So I'm making it a habit to do more writing this year. The website is not up and running yet but I hope it will be soon - and I hope that it will be useful for you and others and therefore keep me focused and accountable in maintaining good habits for longer than just a few weeks!
There may of course be bad habits you wish to cut away and move on from too - so prayers for that...
Interestingly, another dictionary definition of 'habit' is to be dressed or clothed - so as I finish this little thought, I do hope you might get time to pray and think about what you wish to be dressed or clothed in as this New Year gets going. What habit do you need to 'get into' like a piece of clothing? It may be ill-fitting to start with but....Not so that we look good from the outside but so that God can change, grow and stretch us on the inside to see his Kingdom come in who we are and what we do.
Blessings for 2014, whatever it holds!