A couple of weeks ago I watched Louisa Johnson win the X Factor. Whatever you say about the show and where on earth she’ll be this time next year or in 10, one thing is undeniable – that girl really wanted to come first. She believed she could and when she doubted, others were standing by to believe for her. Whether you think it’s a dubious start to a 17-year-old future or not, Louisa was ready to stake everything on the pursuit of just one goal: to win the X Factor.
As for me, I’m watching the entertainment while I do the ironing. Oh yes, I’ve got mountains of laundry. Piles of clothes – some clean, some not. Some waiting to be put away, others waiting to be ironed and form another huge pile all of their own. And I love it.
Yep, I actually find ironing really therapeutic. I like doing housework because I find a sense of satisfaction in seeing things get clean and tidy and being able to control my environment.
Ah, how good it feels to get things done.
But could it be that my huge laundry pile is actually a huge excuse? It’s easy and satisfying, you could say that I’m blessing and taking care of my household, but all the while I’m revelling in this, I’m not doing something else. I’m not writing. I’m not making. I’m not coming up with ideas and working out the best ways to contribute and add value to the lives of the people around me. I’m not making any impact and I’m most definitely not taking any risks. My ironing is safe, cosy – and going nowhere.
After all, to stop ironing and do any of those other things won’t necessarily result in perfect creases. It might result in crumples and dirty marks might start to show. What if those other things don’t work out? What if I don’t know what I’m doing? What if, unlike Louisa, I’m voted off for good? But what if I’m ready to fritter away a lifetime of God-given ability because I’m just too afraid to have a go?
For the first time ever this year, I’m going to set a few goals. I’ve seen my US blogging sisters do this year after year and declared inwardly that I wouldn’t join in because I’m a self-deprecating Brit and we don’t do that sort of thing. But the real truth is, I don’t like setting goals because they’re risky and there’s no guarantee I’m going to achieve them. Setting goals looks more like setting myself up for failure than setting up to achieve something great.
For me then, 2016 is about one question and it’s this – how am I going to add the most value to the lives of the people around me? In 2016, how are we going to serve the world abundantly, just as Jesus did?
Perhaps for you 2016 could be the year where you finally face that tricky relationship that’s feuding on, or perhaps it’s when you at last acknowledge that you have a God-given gift that it’s time to use, or perhaps you need to stop apologising for the fact that you’re a sinner saved by grace and share that news with someone you know wants to hear it.
We do have the opportunity to hide forever. We can make excuses about work, timing and circumstances and never make any impact for Jesus at all. We can be safe, non-offensive, polite, and well-mannered – cosily hiding in our Christian laundry. But we can also start to take risks. We can practice, get things wrong and then dare to get on up again to throw everything at running the race for Him. We’ll have to be prepared for it to be a potentially messy ride and one that’s covered in prayer and devotion to God’s word, but when we set out in His name we can be confident He goes before us every step of the way.
So how’s life looking for you as 2016 approaches? Unlike Louisa, we have a goal to pursue with eternal worth – so are we going to stake it all to glorify Him or stay hidden in the laundry? I know which one I want to choose.