I don’t know why every time around my birthday I end up in challenges or learning seasons.
Two years ago, 39 days before my 39th birthday, I embarked on the 39 Things Challenge inspired by an article in the New York Times about how we needed so much less STUFF to live on that we actually use. I went back and read through all of those pieces of the challenge and saw how I had grown, but then how I have allowed all the stuff back into my life without any hesitation. It reminds me so acutely that I can do anything for a few weeks, but it is going to take a lot more work, a lot better new habit development, and a lot more relying on God to actually get where I am trying to go: less stuff, more faith.
One year ago, I ventured down the 40 Days to 40 Journey. I felt like there were some big things ahead (I had NO idea, this year has been an absolute whirlwind), and wanted to spend time focusing ten days each on being a better mom, a better wife, a better worker, and a better person. Some of the stuff stuck. Some of the areas I’m actually worse today than I was a year ago.
I don’t have any grand challenges this year. Not until I can learn how to keep the new habits engrained and thriving. Instead, I’m joining a good friend of mine’s church (virtually, they are in FLORIDA!) as they embark on Mark Batterson’s Draw The Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge. The idea is to draw a circle around a promise God has for you, and then pray regularly, every day for 40 days, about it. Because all too often we pray about something and then fail to keep after it, and we forget to recognize God’s hand as it appears in a situation we prayed about.
I don’t have something specific I’m praying (yet). I all too often fail on more specific ideals I plan or target. I love that the introduction to the challenge gives you the permission not to know: Pray about what to pray about. God will reveal a promise, a problem, or a person. Then circle whatever God has prompted you to pray for with the same kind of consistency with which the earth circles the sun.
I’ll admit, I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. As I mentioned, due to a fair amount of travel this month you won’t hear a lot from me in the next few weeks, and it couldn’t come at a better time. In this season of struggling, I’m craving the quiet. I’m ready to hear what’s next. So no grandiose plans for this year’s 40 day challenge.
I started Draw the Circle yesterday and read from II Samuel 22 as my prayer. There’s a powerful excerpt in the middle of the chapter that, if nothing else, I’m praying. Each Bible translation says it a little differently – this is my favorite:
They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (NIV)
He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. (ESV)
He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. (KJV)
I have this picture of a wide open field. Fighting uphill to finally encounter the vista. And regardless of the words used for the place you reach, each version concludes with the reason why God brings you to this spacious open place: He delights in you. He delights in me. I can certainly pray, even without certainty, for a spacious place for the next 40 days.
Photo Credit: Mike Cattell