I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who told me about an initiative she competed last year called Plan Your Year: Your Guide to an Awesome 2018.
Essentially, it’s a framework where you sit down at the beginning of the year and strategize different goals you’d like to accomplish over the year. You end up narrowing down your goals into the “one big thing” to focus on. Then you break down that one thing into something small and simple you can do each day, each month of the year, in incremental steps. The work my friend did with Plan Your Year helped her focus and channel energy throughout 2018 to make progress with her one big thing.
I left that conversation asking, What’s my one big thing?
There are two lines from Scripture that caught my attention this week and provide direction as I ponder my one thing. The first one comes from the Gospel of Mark that we read back on Monday, the first day in Ordinary Time. The Gospel scene was the Call of the First Disciples when Jesus passes by the Sea of Galilee and sees fishermen Simon and Andrew casting their nets into the sea. Jesus says to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:18).
It’s that last line that called out to me. They abandoned their nets and followed him. Look how quickly Simon and Andrew responded. Jesus called, they dropped everything and immediately followed him. Those nets were not just for recreational use. Those nets were their whole livelihood. They dropped everything.
The other line from Scripture I’m pondering is one we’ll hear in this coming Sunday’s Gospel from the Gospel of John 2:1-11. It’s the powerful passage from the wedding feast of Cana. As the scene unfolds, we journey with Mary and Jesus at a wedding when they realize the wine is running short. Mary says to Jesus, “They have no wine.” And Jesus says in reply, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” Then Mary says to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Do whatever he tells you. Those words just so happen to be Mary’s last words in the whole Gospel, and for good reason. Her last will and testament to all the disciples of Jesus, including you and me, is to do whatever Jesus tells us.
So here are these two bold lines from Scripture: They abandoned their nets and followed him and Do whatever he tells you. I’m thinking about how they relate to “the one big thing” in the spiritual life. That one big thing being PRAYER.
The Christian who ceases to pray is at risk. The person who ceases to pray puts others at risk. If our spiritual lives are not alive, nothing else matters. How can we possibly follow Jesus and do whatever He tells us if we’re not in relationship with Him? And how do we develop and grow in relationship with Him? Through prayer. If you’re not praying, you’re at risk. It’s like breathing … you stop breathing, you die. You stop praying, you spiritually die little by little and soon enough acedia, sloth, apathy, and boredom creeps into your ministry, family, marriage, work, and leads to discouragement and cynicism. That destroys faith – yours and the others God has entrusted into your spiritual care.
The one big thing I’m working on right now is fidelity to prayer: making time for it, honoring it, committing to it, and showing up at the time I promise. Prayer should be our life-organizing principle. Meaning everything else is scheduled around prayer. We must find ways to pray throughout the day so that Christ becomes the center of our lives, and He becomes the life-organizing principle.
When we hear those words They abandoned their nets and followed him and Do whatever he tells you, they aren’t just words on a page or abstract concepts. They instead come alive. Time in prayer will lead to a deeper, richer relationship with Jesus and help us to follow Him and do whatever He tells us.
Copyright 2019 Lisa A. Schmidt