Traditionally, as the old year winds down I find myself asking God for a scripture or something He wants to be the theme and focus for the coming year. When I did this a couple of weeks ago I heard Him drop into my heart the words, “Year of Preparation”. It came with no explanation. Preparation for what? I asked Him to confirm in some way if this was really His voice and His direction for 2011.
Sunday my son-in-law preached at our church. This was his last message to our church after 12 years as our assistant pastor. Next Sunday we honor him and our daughter and celebrate as we send them and a launch team from our church to plant their own church in southeast Portland. The thread woven throughout his message was preparation.
This was the confirmation to me that I really had heard from God. Since then I have been looking up scriptures having to do with preparation and praying for insight into what God is saying. I really want to understand what a year of preparation looks like to me personally. I keep returning to a passage of scripture that has “bothered” me ever since I read it some months ago.
Ezekiel 43:8 NLT
”They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me.”
God is lamenting that in the temple of that day there is worship for Him taking place, and separated only by a thin wall, a room where idol worship is taking place. As I read the words, I sense the heartache of God…the heartache of a Lover having to hear His beloved with another man in the room next door.
Ezekiel 6:9 NLT
”… how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols.”
I realize that I am that wayward lover all too often. I worship God, but Self is worshipped in the room right next door. So, for me, this “Year of Preparation” has to begin with the first commandment that I have no other God’s before or besides Him. It has to begin with me, with the temple of my heart being a place prepared for Him and Him alone. My inner sanctuary has some walls that need to come down, some idols that need kicked out once and for all.
The words of an old chorus and the cry of my heart:
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
I’ll be a living sanctuary
Lastly, the Lord has also been dropping into my mind and heart the word Hope. I see it everywhere lately. Without the hope of His help, if I had to tackle the task of facing my own waywardness, my lack of ability to keep even this first and most basic commandment to have no other God’s but Him, I would faint, lose heart, give up.
2 Corinthians 5:5-6 (Amplified Bible)
“Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].
So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage…”
God has given me the hope of His help. He who made me will help to prepare me and make me fit to be His sanctuary…His alone.