Word of the Year: Cultivate
"I have cultivated a quiet heart." Psalm 131:2
Do you remember what it was like when you first became a Christian? In one of my classes in college we were asked to reflect back on when we first became Christians and that zealous experience of loving God and wanting to do things for Him.
For me, that came in middle school. I quickly became passionate about wanting to help people so I designed a bright neon T-shirt with a doodle of a mosquito on it that said "bite back" and sold them at my school, donating all the money to World Vision to buy mosquito nets for people in countries that needed them to fight malaria. I started a club (I think there were maybe ten members) and continued to chase after this mission of helping others.
When I shared this story with my professor we talked about how so many of us are eager to be used by God.
When I look back on this experience now, I think about how I dove into a project trying to help others before really preparing or understanding. I definitely did accomplish something and God was kind to use those silly T-shirts for a purpose.
Something that farmers understand is that the most important part of growing or producing anything actually comes in preparation.
If the land isn't properly prepared by being fertilized and taken care of, or even just placed in the right climate, nothing will grow.
This is the heart behind this word of the year: cultivate.
Cultivating isn't as glamorous as the overnight success stories or the dramatic transformations we like to believe in, but it's deeply important.
To cultivate is to prepare. It's to acquire and develop skills that God will use in your life, it's to prepare good, healthy soil in your soul for God to use to bring growth.
Cultivating a "quiet heart" in the context of this psalm is about turning from self-sufficiency.
It's about turning away from the things of this world for happiness or contentment and instead cultivating a space where God can produce the things of the Spirit in you instead.
When I look back on my little project in middle school that I immediately acted on in response to the good news of the gospel, I think a reason that it didn't "stick" was because I skipped the preparation step.
I hadn't yet cultivated a space for God to have a deep, intimate relationship with me. When I tried to produce and grow something good from my shallow understanding of who God was, I eventually gave up on it.
We all want to be used greatly by God. We all want to impact the kingdom of God and bring change to a world that is so desperately in need.
If I could go back and tell my seventh grade self a little advice, I'd hand her a Bible and tell her to learn who God was, to learn how to listen to Him, to worship Him regularly, and to build a deep foundation with Him.
I would tell her I love her eagerness to jump in and start doing things, but I'd tell her for now, she might want to just sit back in His presence and start to "cultivate a quiet heart."
This word is for you if you are feeling hurried to start doing things for God and His kingdom. You're eager to dive in and desperate to feel like your life is one of impact.
What if, God is still preparing you? What if you can play a part in cultivating a space and a lifestyle in which He can truly move?
Cultivating a quiet heart in the coming year might look like creating a regular meeting place with God. Maybe it's starting a Bible reading plan. Maybe, it's inviting a friend to be a voice of accountability in your life. Maybe it's redefining success for yourself based on who God says you are, rather than who the world says you are. Maybe it's committing to an intentional prayer rhythm for the year.
I believe God will do amazing things in your life and through you for His kingdom, but first, cultivate a willing spirit, and a content, quiet heart.