A 3-Step Program for the Next 15 Years

20150122_202141Some time ago, I read a series of sermons on Leviticus that brought many themes and verses into my awareness. I don’t know how much I would have gotten out of reading Leviticus on my own, but the sermon series provided an enlightening guide, and even today some of the verses stand out. Like this set in the 26th chapter:

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land. I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.” Leviticus 26:3-6 (NIV)

Now, who doesn’t want an outcome like that? I especially am interested in this part: you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I think of the worries, the concerns… the sounds, the sights, the fears… that intrude in my dreams. So I was thinking, sleeping through the night, unafraid – that is a fine goal to have.

One of my biggest concerns, workwise, is the future – 14, 15 years from now. Will I have done the things I needed to do to provide for life then? Will I spend these 14, 15 years with worry, or will I not? That thought is sort of how my plan came into being. I devised a little program for myself, which I’ll share with you here.

I looked ahead to see where I wanted to be, then looked back to see what needs to be accomplished each month, each week, most days to be where I want to be. Now, I have this level of effort in sight: this is what I need to do to get where I want to go. But I know it won’t “just happen.” So…

I asked a question: what will it take for me to be able to do this? What resources do I need within me to perform at this level, to pursue these kinds of opportunities, to get this work done? How can I personally accomplish these steps every week, given my strengths and given my weaknesses? I have plenty of things/issues that could serve as stumbling blocks – the things that start happening after fear, discouragement, guilt, etc. start taking over. So, I asked, what will I need to keep from stumbling?

I’m going to need energy and confidence. So…

My next question was: where can I find the confidence and the energy I need for accomplishing this goal? Where can I find the physical/emotional resources I will need to stay on track? The things that I’m going to need I discovered that I could put in three categories, and I came up with my own acronym.

Now, I should mention here, I’d never had an acronym before, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like having one. They seem so trendy. But once this thinking made sense, I decided “it’s time.” And here is the first letter…

A, for Attitude. You know what a stumbling block can be? A negative emotion. You’ve probably got your own list, but these things can fall into the area of feeling guilt-ridden, bitter, afraid… you know the ones. Prayer and scripture are certainly protectors of the attitude, but the other categories affect attitude as well.

Henry Cloud says you need belief to accomplish a goal; a belief that you can do it. You may have it at the beginning, but something happens and you can start spiraling. The lack of belief becomes pervasive – you think “it’s always going to be this way”; permanent – “it’s never going to change”; personal – “it’s me, that’s the way I am.” I want to stay away from that place, so I need the second letter…

A, for Activity. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, they say, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. You can’t argue with physics. Within this category is a range of everything from a morning walk to following up on a work project to writing a story or post or visiting a friend. Oh, and sometimes it’s the things I dread – something that might be “awkward,” but has to be done. In those cases, I try to remember from Isaiah 54: “Do not be afraid, you will not suffer shame; do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated.” (A good prayer for the creative arts.) Motion builds encouragement. If I dread doing something but go ahead and do it, I get rid of the dread plus have the potentially positive outcome. And if it’s a negative outcome, at least I’m dealing in reality – which, they say, is a better choice than the alternative.

This A for Activity also goes out from the belief that I am not the only one active. God is active on my behalf. If I am active, He can put things in my path, and I can see them. Then, when something good happens (by any measure), it helps my attitude and increases my energy and confidence. And another thing, the measure isn’t always linear. Obviously, some activities lend themselves to more productive outcomes than others. But you don’t always know. I have made good contacts by happenstance while waiting to cross a street or while visiting a friend in a rehab facility. The main thing in common: I was in motion when it happened.

And now for this other letter…

H, for Habits. This is how I avoid the daily pitfalls and make the daily progress. A daily work schedule is in this list, and also my morning walks. The verse I think about for this one is from Hebrews 3: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.” First of all, these 14 or 15 years will need to be accomplished during the intervening days between now and then. That means this day is important.

Also, the hardened heart is central to a negative cause and effect. Fits of pique. Disgruntlement. Things seeming permanent, pervasive and personal. If this stuff piles up, attitude, activity and habits all get sidetracked, and choices are made from which bad outcomes would follow. So I would just say, a hardened heart is a bad habit to have.

So that’s my program – A.A.H. Oh, there could be more letters, and I could put them in a different order. Maybe next year, I’ll add an H and move things around, and make my program H.A.H.A. But for now, I’m here: A.A.H.

And what does this program provide? I think of it this way…

AAH is the sound of insight, new ideas and creativity. It is the sound of satisfaction, sort of like eating a good meal and being full. And it is the sound of a relaxed spirit. Like the kind that subscribes to this promise: you will lie down at night and no one will make you afraid.

11 thoughts on “A 3-Step Program for the Next 15 Years”

    1. Thanks for so eloquently putting into words the things that I feel. Your gift of writing blesses us all. Mary Ruth

  1. Good thinking, Minnie. My grandchildren will see this, and hopefully will take it to heart. You are a blessing.

  2. Minnie, thank for sharing your insights that will be “food for thought” for all of us as we begin this new year, always looking to the future with God. Karen

  3. Thanks Minnie.. I always enjoy your words! Studying Leviticus this year in Bible Study Fellowship and not so accidentally, our lessons this week are from Leviticus 25-27… Aah…leluiah – What a Savior!!!

  4. Minnie, your insight and awesome ability to communicate are such a blessing. Thank you for sharing with us and helping us to grow in the Lord.

  5. Minnie,
    I wish I could get in your brain and figure out you always seem to come up with what I wish I had said (or written). I will keep this with me so I can refer to it when I need reminding of what the letters mean.
    Thanks for helping me stay on track as you stay on track,

Comments are closed.