I didn’t stand up. I didn’t lift my hands and sing. Instead, my eyes teared as I looked at the rest of the congregation, which was doing everything that a “good Christian” should be doing in church: standing, singing and lifting hands in praise.
Beautiful melodies drifted through the air — notes rising and falling — and with them, a deep sadness and longing rose in my chest.
I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that alive inside. Because the truth was, after a 4-year on-and-off battle with anxiety attacks, my soul felt like it was slowly dying.
I was ready to feel again and grow in my faith. But I didn’t know where to start.
From the comfort of my church chair, I whispered to God: I want to feel like that again, Lord. I want my soul to be on fire for you. I don’t just want to believe in you, I want to be growing in you. I want to be so passionately, head-over-heels in love with you. But I’m stuck and I don’t know how to get unstuck.
Later that month, my husband tapped me on the shoulder during a different church service.
“Did you look at the bulletin yet?” He said.
“No. Why?” I replied.
“Look who’s coming to perform in concert here,” he pointed to the back of the bulletin.
Hillsong, it read.
Y’all. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Hillsong Worship or any of its sister bands (Young & Free and United), but these guys can sing! But not only can they sing … they can also write! It’s a combination that has created some of the most hauntingly beautiful music I’ve ever listened to. Time and time again, when I’ve needed a helping hand in this journey of faith, their songs have reached me and lifted me up.
In that moment I could almost hear God say to me: This is what I am going to use to wake up your faith, Lauren.
And that’s exactly what He did. After three hours of soul-stirring music, and one of the most empowering talks I’ve ever heard (Christine Caine, you will never cease to amaze me), the fire was back.
Have you ever had a mountain-top experience of faith like the one I just described? A time when God reached down and pulled your soul out of the pit? A time when Heaven touched Earth just to hold your beating heart and let you know everything was going to be OK?
Chances are if you’re a believer, you’ve had an experience like that, and if that’s true, then you know the mountain top doesn’t last forever.
Faith is a journey of mountain tops and valleys lows. Sometimes it’s full of adventure and discovery, other times it can feel routine and mundane.
Regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey, if we’re not intentional or careful along the way, it’s easy to get stuck. And in our stagnancy, it’s easy to forget that part of walking with Jesus is growing in faith.
Knowing this is what led me to create the 2017 Inspiration Book for you guys. (If you follow my blog, you probably read about it last week. It’s all about reflecting on what we learned in 2016 and setting faith goals for 2017.)
A few weeks before I launched the Inspiration Book, I received several emails from readers asking for prayer and inspiration in regards to making faith resolutions for 2017. “I feel so stuck in my faith and I need God to wake me up, but I don’t know what to do differently,” one reader wrote.
That’s where today’s post comes in. Today I’ve gathered 17 faith resolutions from some of my favorite Christian writers to help you get the wheels turning and make your own faith resolutions. As you read about what others are planning to focus on this year, my hope is that you will be encouraged and inspired to grow even closer to Christ.
Sometimes God uses a concert to wake up our faith, but He is just as able to use quiet time and goal setting to speak to us, too.
Here’s some examples of faith resolutions for 2017 to help get you thinking about how you can wake up your faith this year (I’ll go first):
After being diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder in 2015, this year has been all about restoring, choosing, spreading and abiding in JOY. In terms of my ministry, 2016 was also a big growing season — a time when God called me into deeper waters and challenged me to take a leap of faith. While joy and faithfulness will remain important in 2017, my resolution is to love and serve others well by spending more time with Love himself.
When I wrote my, newly released, book, Fear Fighting, I learned if I want to be charged up in God’s purpose, I have to be sitting down in his love. With this, my resolution for 2017 is to get with God: to actively pray, dwell on God’s Word and listen in the white space of my life. In the car? Get with God. Doing dishes? Get with God. Going to bring the trash out? Get with God.
In past years, my New Years resolutions focused on doing more, achieving more and being better. This year, going through a cancer journey with my husband has shown me what really matters. As I look at a new year, I’ll be returning to the basics: being more present in the moment with others, practicing more gratitude in place of grumbling, and making a greater priority to simply be still and know that God is in control.
Right now, there is a three-word phrase that I’m meditating on based on Exodus 3:14-16, when the Israelites were freed from Pharoah, but still running for their lives in a season of uncertainty. Just Stay Calm … These are Moses’s words to the people as a reminder that they were not alone even though they couldn’t go forward or backward. It’s a reminder that even though I am a writer with a calling, those slow seasons are a part of God’s plan. I must stay calm, not second-guess or freak out about my lack of ability to move things forward. I’ve got to wait for God to make a way.
In 2017 I hope to listen closely for God’s voice, but not to stop there. I’m praying that I not only seek Him but that I obey Him as well. And more than ever, I am praying that God gives me the strength to persevere, to finish as strongly as I begin, to be faithful to what He’s placed in front of me.
This year, I’m focusing on an intention: to be persistently disciplined. My first area of discipline to tackle is waking up early. Early for me at least … 6 a.m. This will give me an hour every morning to start my day with reading, prayer, anda journaling. I believe starting my day this way will pave the way for better decisions and choices throughout my day allowing me to tackle my goals and pursue my dreams.
After having read through the chronological Bible in 2016, I feel the desire to slow down and focus intently on Jesus. He will be my goal for 2017, as I seek to remember the “one thing needed” that Mary was commended for in Luke 10:42. I will not be planning or strategizing, but instead taking God at His Word that He will direct my path and fulfill His purpose for me, as I am sitting at His feet, listening and learning.
By God’s grace, I pray for the strength, motivation, and discipline to continue to read God’s word every single day. I plan on doing so by utilizing tools such as the YouVersion Bible App’s daily Bible reading plans, as well as other helpful tools like Barbour Book’s Daily Wisdom for Women Devotional Collection.
I simply want to not only hear His voice but listen to His voice. I want to learn how to weed out all of the noise around me and hone in on HIM. This means cutting out all of the nonsense around me. Praying and reading the Bible just isn’t enough for me anymore — I know He wants more from me. And I am going to give it to Him because He deserves that and more.
I want a deeper, more intimate walk with Jesus. I want to hear and recognize His voice the same way I hear those closest to me. To grow our relationship in this way, I have officially put Him on my calendar! Several times a day I will have a reminder on my phone to stop and take a few minutes to pray, praise Him and seek Him.
So much of my life is shaped by busyness and hurrying, working and attempting perfection. In the coming year, I want to spend time hiding God’s Word in my heart and hiding with the Lord in my spirit. This will only come from a fierce desire given to me by God and a humble obedience to pursue Christ always — through earnest prayer, daily silence, and faithful study.
JENNIFER DUKES LEE
I’ve tried all sorts of resolutions aimed at making me happier, healthier and whole. But by Jan. 20, I’ve usually failed them all. I guess you could say I’m a resolution drop-out. This year, I’m done with resolutions — and making a revolution instead. I’m turning around to live my actual life, instead of sleepwalking through it. If I adopted a word for 2017, it would be “linger.” (Join Jennifer in taking steps toward a happier new year by taking “The Happiness Dare.” Learn more here.)
2016 was the year of Hope for me. After a year of deep grief, having lost my husband at the beginning of 2015, I needed to know what was possible. As I have learned to dream and hope, God has convicted me that I spend too much time trying to understand his character and his limitations (I know, it’s ridiculous). So in 2017, I’m taking everything I’ve learned over the last two years and putting it all on a shelf so that I can truly experience God and how deeply he loves me.
I plan to carry the hope of Christmas with me through the new year. My desire is to live in the reality of Immanuel every day — like He’s with me in every second of every day … in His strength, love, wisdom, and grace. I will only be able to do that by abiding in Him.
I’ve been praying about how I can have deeper faith and help plant seeds of truth in the hearts of my children. In 2017 I want to hide God’s word in my heart through scripture memory. I hope to memorize a minimum of one verse a month and be able share them with my children as life happens — in car rides to school, sports, and throughout the day.
Recently I realized my prayer life had plateaued. I hadn’t continued the journey of growth. This year, I’m digging in. I’m feeling called to revisit my spiritual warfare materials. The enemy has been having a heyday in too many lives lately and with Jesus as my victor, I’m committing to a prayer life that kicks the enemy to the curb.
SUE MOORE DONALDSON
My focus for 2017 is to listen well. I’m a woman of many words. And while I know God uses them, perhaps He would use me more if I listened more. Wanting to listen well presumes a heart of obedience to do what He says; therefore, to listen well affects every aspect of my relationship with God, which affects all my other relationships.
For 2017 my plan is to become fully confident of who I am as a child of God. I desire to fully walk in the calling the Lord has placed in me with boldness and courage. I prayerfully hope to get to a place of contentment by seeking the real meaning of Grace. I believe being able to truly define the word Grace will bring me peace and growth in this area.
Commit is my word for this year. I need to commit things to Him more readily than I do, and I also need to commit myself to doing the things He places in my path with full obedience and trust. How? By deliberately covering everything that comes my way with His Word, regardless of how small a need might seem, or how doable on my own strength.
My faith resolution this year is to truly live free in the moment, no matter the circumstances without the need for control. To really let go of the need to know the who, what, when, where, why and how. To step back and let Him handle the details, it never was my job to begin with.