I believe that I have commented, at least once in this site, that we live in a heavily wooded area, and we have LEAVES to rake up in the fall. Actually, we pull a leaf vacuum behind our lawn tractor and it shreds the leaves into little pieces which we then take to the street for the city to pick up.
The leaves in the front yard are handled that way. The leaves in the backyard, however, are mulched in the same way but they are put into the woods in the back yard rather than trucking them down to the street.
This year was somewhat unique because virtually all of the leaves hanging from the trees fell before the pickup date. Also, we had very little rain so the leaves were not wet making their removal less difficult. The result was this huge pile of shredded leaves.
In short, this year we had a bumper crop of leaves, a condition which is testified to by the size of the pile along the street.
This year, therefore, was also unique insofar as I resulted in a situation seldom seen by us — a “leaf-free” yard.
(Please, if you are a horticulturalist, don’t inspect the yard too closely! It is, in many areas, also a “grass-free” zone! That’s probably fodder for a future post!)
The point of the story is a simple one – the ability to have all of the leaves removed from the yard provides us with an opportunity to have a clean slate in the front yard. Now, we can do what is needed to improve the grass quality, to plant flowers for the spring, to do many things that the plethora of leaves prevented us from doing in the past.
This new year also provides us with a clean slate. A new year and a new decade – 2020. If the Lord wills, we will have 365 days ahead of us to do things differently than we have done before. I’m not necessarily talking about making resolutions –those things are extremely fragile and I usually break them within the first couple of weeks of the new year.
I’m talking about making new habits that will bring spiritual growth, that will increase our love for our Lord and Savior. We can use this new year to check on our heart … so, how is yours?
Lisa Allen in her devotion 4 Habits of a Healthy Heart, dated September 15, 2014, suggests these habits that will produce a healthy heart:
- We should develop a heart for God.
- We should develop heart to heart relationships with other Christians.
- We should open the eyes of our heart as we go through our day.
- We should appreciate the uniqueness of our heart.
First, when we develop a heart for God, we will make time to read His Word daily. I’m not talking about reading the single verse in the Upper Room and then ignoring scripture the rest of the day. I’m talking about spending time with God and meditating on the truths found in His Word. This will give us godly wisdom and will prepare us to meet the hazards and challenges of daily life. David said:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
David says scripture is a light for us. But, it spreads no light if our Bible is only on our nightstand or shut up on a shelf without being read!
Second, we should develop heart to heart relationships with others in the Christian community. We can develop this when we worship with people weekly, when we fellowship with them in small group Bible studies or Sunday School, when we eat together at the communion table or at a potluck meal. We read in Acts 2:42:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
At our church, every other month we have a specific women’s ministry event, such as a game night, craft event, a church-wide picnic, spring and fall retreats and a Christmas brunch. Participation in these activities enable women to meet each other in an informal, fun way so that we can develop healthy relationships that can encourage our spiritual growth. We can’t pray for other’s needs if we don’t know them! Be sure not to get so busy that you don’t have time to worship with others, to fellowship with others and to pray for others!
Third, allow God to open the eyes of your heart to see others as God sees them. When we spend time with God each day, we begin to see others through God’s eyes. We will notice their gifts and talents, their passions and their fears.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
We can encourage others as they develop their gifts and their strengths. This will allow us to reach out to the world, and not limit our interaction with the Christians we see in church on Sunday!
Fourth, recognize that you are a unique creation by God. Just as there are no two identical snowflakes, there is no one else just like you.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. … 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. … 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:1-5, 13, 16
God knows you intimately because He created you with a unique heart, mind and soul. You are a creation by God with skills and abilities that you should put to use in God’s kingdom work. Yes, nurture your marriage and care for the family, but also take time to invest in activities that reflect your own passion and ability. If you are a leader, volunteer to lead a Sunday School class or Bible study. If you want to learn to do something, take a course at a nearby school or take a class on-line.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Don’t forget that a necessary component of having a healthy heart for the Lord is to find ways to express your own gifts. God created you for His purposes and He gave you the abilities to do His work through His Holy Spirit. Be God’s hands and feet in this world by ministering as Jesus did. Take your focus off of yourself and your problems by redirecting your focus to serving others!
Make 2020 a new year with a clean slate and work toward developing a healthy heart. The clutter of the old year and its leaves have been removed … the new year is here with a clean slate on which you need to put your imprint. Make it one that glorifies our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Father, I pray that I would take this time to develop a heart for You by reading Your Word faithfully, not out of a sense of obligation but out of love for Your Word. I pray that I would take this year and fellowship with other Christians so that I can encourage them and receive strength from them as well. I pray that I would see others as You see them, people who are lost in sin and need a Savior, and I pray that I would introduce them to Jesus through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for making me a unique individual, with gifts and talents granted by You for use in Your kingdom. May I use whatever gifts you have given me so that Your name will be glorified throughout the world.