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Today everything we own is being loaded into a truck to be hauled away. Strong men with burly arms heave our earthly possessions out the front door, up a gangplank, and into the back of a semi-trailer, returning with synchronized precision to capture yet another load. By the end of the day the entire house will sit vacant, the truck will be full, and it will drive away with everything.
I face the New Year stripped bare of my writer’s cave, my comfort zones, my daily habits, and my rituals. Every year it’s wise to reassess every single thing we do in our spiritual practice and in our practice as Christian writers. This year I’m doing so in an extreme manner, stripped of all my props.
If you’ve never relocated, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the most wrenching experiences of life. It causes us to reassess everything we do, think, and believe. During the uprooting, we examine our rituals, habits, practices, and reasons. The decks are cleared. A move forces us to determine what we will put back into place, what we will practice moving forward, and how we will carry it out. Necessity forces us to unearth the whys of our actions and processes.
Yet, even without the brutal experience of relocating, spiritual and writerly reassessment can occur. Periodically it’s necessary and beneficial to engage in a retreat, a thorough clearing of former clutter, and a probing assessment of absolutely everything.
Consider what would happen if you stripped everything to the bones and started afresh. What would you keep? What would you toss? The start of a new year is a good time to ask the hard questions and to establish or reestablish necessary goals and structures.
- Am I consistently contemplating God’s Word?
- Am I responding to the inner work of the Holy Spirit?
- Do I take time to still my active mind, so I can hear the Spirit’s quiet urging?
- How are God’s Word and his leading affecting my work as a writer?
- What is he inspiring me to write?
- Am I writing what pleases him?
- Are my writing rituals healthy?
- Can my practices be physically and spiritually maintained?
- Am I abusing my body and neglecting my family?
- Do I need to learn balance?
- Am I making my writing a priority, or am I neglecting it?
- Have I set the necessary structures in place to achieve my writing goals?
- Am I pushing forward toward my goals, or am I languishing?
- What do I need to change?
- How would the Lord have me carry this out?
- How will I turn and go the direction he leads?
If years go by and we never take the time to assess these things, we find ourselves in a dark place. We are human. We are sinners. Sinners constantly drift.
And so, we turn and turn again toward the Lord to face him and to walk in his narrow way. We assess our habits and beg the Lord to give us the self-control, determination, and strength to do the work he has given us. And then, we rely on him, rather than upon ourselves.
Simply doing this requires a constant awareness of our motives. To produce the uplifting spiritual content God desires, a well-examined life is necessary.
Take the time. This year my assessment is extreme, but the Lord will bless it, as he will bless your unveiling before him when you lay it all open for his evaluation.
May God’s peace be with you in this new year.