If your big resolution for this new year was to just to stand up on your feet again, I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to open your eyes in the morning and just want to close them again. Maybe it’s grief, anxiety, an unexpected change or a huge mess in some part of your life…whatever it is, if the ground under your feet has been shifting – or you’ve already fallen down — this can be the year you get back up again.
It’s time. God has good things for you ahead, and the first step is to look down and answer honestly:
What have I really been standing on?
What have I counted on for my strength & security?
Jesus wants to take the place of whatever that has been. He’s stronger. He’s better. And He’s the one who can hold you up in the end.
The unfortunate truth is that we will all take our turns with difficulty and struggle – relationally, financially, physically, and more. But there’s a way to stay standing. Jesus told us what it was in one of His most famous parables:
As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well-built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Luke 6:47-49 (NIV)
Jesus knew trouble was coming. Both of the builders faced the same storm, and both built something. The difference was way below the surface in the foundation.
Jesus got practical about HOW you build a life on a foundation that will keep you standing. He said, “As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice…they are like a man…who dug down deep and laid the foundation on the rock.”
These three essential, everyday practices of faith will be what rebuilds any part of your life in 2023.
The first practice is to COME to Jesus.
To come is not primarily a physical act, but a readiness of your heart. To actually come before Jesus means you are open and willing to engage Him. It’s something we have to do over and over because we are so prone to do life our own way. Where do you need to set aside your doubt and consider His way forward? Come with your whole heart, mind, and life before Him ready to tell the hard truths, give things up, lay down your own plans, and receive Him. Sometimes it’s as simple as a prayer like:
“Jesus I am here. Forgive me for trying to figure out how to stand up again on my own. I release control over this to You and I’m willing to try it Your way. Reveal Yourself to me. I’m ready to follow. Amen.”
The second practice is to HEAR His Word.
If you’re ready to do life His way this year, the most important thing you can do is get His Word regularly into your life. The Bible contains His language, history, character, tone of voice, and His very words to you: you’ll end up getting to know Him. If you want to hear His voice for direction and guidance and help, the Bible is key.
It’s going to have to be a conscious choice: no one accidentally hears more scripture. You need a plan; a time, place, method and some friends along for the ride. Listen in the car. Get up 20 minutes earlier. Find a new podcast. Do it instead of scrolling.
You need small, everyday exposures to the Word. Trust me; when you encounter the written Word of God you’ll begin to hear the Living Word of God as well… in a little while you’ll start to have a better radar for where He’s leading you because His Word is alive and active within you.
Finally, you have to put into PRACTICE what it says.
When you come open and begin to hear His Word in your life, you will always be compelled to put it into practice. This means you’re about to become a risk taker! Following Jesus is going to lead you to experiment with obedience. Maybe it’s confessing or giving or finding a mentor. Maybe it’s resting or starting a new discipline. What risk is God putting in front of you right now that is consistent with His word and character? In the parable, the foolish builder is the one who never put the words he heard into practice. A life of faith is a life of risky obedience. Practice finishes the process of turning your foundation into rock, grounding your life on Jesus Himself.
He is with you as you move: you’ll feel His grace in these everyday acts of faith. You’ll find a strength far beyond you, your money, your reputation, your connections, your adventures, your intelligence, or your own goodness. Jesus knows a better, stronger way to what’s next for you in 2023. Whatever you build on Him will stand. Nothing else will hold. It’s all about the foundation. So come, hear and practice: you’ll be standing on the Rock in no time. Let’s do this.For a deeper understanding of these practices and a life that stands firm, find Alli Patterson’s new book How to Stay Standing, released January 2023 from Baker-Revell Publishing.
Alli Patterson is passionate about helping others build a life on the firm foundation of Jesus’s truth and grace. She holds a master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and is a teaching pastor at Crossroads Church. She lives with her husband, Bill, their four children, and one very bratty cat. Alli is a fan of Mexican food, Ohio State football, geeky Bible maps and timelines, pedicures, long runs, and good books.