A People Marked by Remembrance

Ash Wednesday. I shuffle in a few moments late and take a seat in one of the back pews of the Episcopal church. I’m clearly a first-timer. I haven’t the faintest idea what to do in an Episcopal church service. Unfamiliar with the customs of the denomination, I fear sticking out like a sore thumb. I quickly scan my surroundings so I can gauge what to expect. I see Bibles. Ok, feeling good.  Bibles I know. Other books – a hymnal, no problem there; Book of Common Prayer, hmm…heard of, definitely…pretty sure I can figure it out. Kneeling rail in front of each pew, seems self-explanatory. Everything looks mostly…normal. I begin to relax. “It’s a church.” I tell myself. “A church. You can do this. You know church.”

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I do know church. Just maybe not as well as I thought. After over a decade of church attendance, I was a little caught off guard by how hesitant I felt visiting an unfamiliar denomination. I was reminded of how all churches felt to me in the beginning – foreign.

I didn’t grow up a part of a denomination. As a child, church attendance wasn’t a part of our family life even on the occasional or obligatory basis. I had no inclination toward one type of church over the other because I had no idea whatsoever – all denominations were equally unknown. A girl growing up in a suburban city of the Bible Belt, where there is a church on every corner, had no idea what was going on inside any one of them. When I became a Christian later in life, church long remained part of the equation that completely mystified me. In fact, I did my best to try and get around it. I remember thinking, “Lord, if there’s a way that we can keep this thing that we’ve got going between just you and me and avoid the whole church business, then could we go that way? Please?”

Yet try as I did to stay away, the Lord inevitably began pulling me in. So in I went. Although I didn’t know quite what to expect, I was certain I wouldn’t fit in: Church seemed to me to be a place for the people who were raised there. But there I was, an outsider coming in – not even knowing enough to know how to fake it. The fact that I so love His church now is a testament to how forcefully the Lord moves through the imperfect people who love Him:  I haven’t met even one perfect person in the years since I first began attending – not even the ones who were raised there.  It turns out I fit right in.

The longer I have been in church, the more fascinated I have become by it’s long-held traditions. Baptism, Communion, Advent, Lent. As an outsider, these traditions were always so strangely curious to me (maybe even a little weird). But, just as a decade ago the Lord began beckoning me into His church, these last few years the Lord has been beckoning me deeper and deeper into the traditions of His church.  As a young Christian I had always been put off by the rote nature of tradition.  I now feel somehow stabilized by it. My faulty assumption early on was that because these traditions were religious, then they must have been lifeless.  I associated such tradition with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28

Jesus could levy such harsh criticism against the Pharisees because He had insight straight into the heart behind their actions.  My criticism lacked such foundation.  Their religious acts were lifeless, but they didn’t have to be.  By throwing out religion, I was throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I’m not sure if my beliefs stemmed more from ignorance or arrogance, probably a little of both.

As God has been full-on attacking some of my flawed thinking in regards to the church, he has been correcting the notion that the observance of such church tradition is necessarily dull and defunct. To the contrary, these traditions are packed full of the collective heart and wisdom of the generations of believers who have come before. Some of them dating back to the very first believers who actually heard these words come out of Jesus’ mouth, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remembrance would be a trait that would mark the people of God.  And these traditions serve the necessary function within the body of Christ of teaching us to remember.  They remind us to remember.  Jesus took the wine and broke the bread, saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

IMG_7389Remembrance. Back to Ash Wednesday.

It didn’t take long for me to begin picking up on the call and response format of the service; A truth is uttered by the officiant, a response is given by the people.

Truth.  Response.  Truth…Remembrance…Response.

Within the context of the service, the truth spoken by the officiant triggers remembrance in the people, which elicits a response from the people.

God’s people are a people marked by remembrance.  So on Ash Wednesday the Reverend reads from the Book of Common Prayer: Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant us that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.

As each believer in the sanctuary makes their way up front, we are marked with ashes on our forehead and these words are spoken over us…

Truth:  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

I make my way back to my pew and sit down.  Just behind me, an old man rasps, his breathing heavy, labored and uneven.  The truth resonates.

Remembrance:  I begin to remember. {You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  James 4:14}  {“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25}

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Response: With that elementary fact remembered, the playing field is suddenly so level.  You and me, we’re both flesh and bone.  Whether Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal or Pentecostal.  Stay-at-home, working, or working-from-home.  Tall, short, slender or curvy –  we’re all made of the same stuff and one day our earthly bodies will disintegrate right back into it. It may not be the most glamorous view of life, but it does a pretty good job of reminding me that it’s not about me. And it’s not about you. We’re nothing but dust.  It is only by His gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior.  So this Lenten season let’s be bold enough to lean into remembrance – remembering the path He took to bring a people who were once so far away, so very near.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13

 

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Linked up today at #ThreeWordWednesday

 

 

The People of the Cross Look Towards the Cross

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“Mama?” Jacob whispers, “Can you come help?”

I was awakened at 4am by a coughing 4 year old boy who had accidentally wet his bed. I’m aware of his little presence at my bedside before my groggy consciousness can put my surroundings in their proper place. Blurry-eyed, he and I shuffle down the hallway together and back to his room for fresh pajamas, a clean blanket and medicine for his cough. He’s all fixed up for another several hours of sleep. I get sweet kisses and one last hug. With Jacob back in his bed, I head back down the hall towards mine. I settle back in to rest, but can’t find it. My thoughts start bouncing off the sides of my brain, colliding and reverberating until finally, they begin resonating. You see, I tend to hear the Lord best in the dark. Just as you can see the light most starkly against a dark sin-stained backdrop, you can hear the light most clearly against the pitch black backdrop of the dead of night. And at 4am on this Tuesday, February 17th, the darkness of the world is blaring full blast.

As I lie in bed looking for sleep, I am haunted by the knowledge that on the other side of the world 21 families feel the heavy weight of this broken world to the point that it crushes the breath from their lungs.  They ache, they long, they mourn, and in my nice, comfortable bed with all my family tucked in tight, every one of us safe and sound, I somehow feel less safe than I ever have before. But it’s not the palpable hate of the executioners or their assurance that there is more to come that has pulled the safety net out from under my feet – oh no, we must never give them that right.  To the contrary, it is Christ’s love that beckons me into the deep, roaring waters of the dangerous. Against every instinct of mine to stay in the shallow area of belief where it seems safe, he calls me out further and further. His voice is so clear amidst the chaos. He beckons, don’t stay where it’s safe.

You’re not safe where it’s safe.

Our idolatry of safety is putting us in harm’s way.

In a world where the darkness presses in tight, who among us doesn’t long to be safe?  But we mustn’t make the mistake of mistaking safety for security.  Safety is an illusion that doesn’t exist.  We claim to have the right to feel safe in our homes, in our schools, on our streets. We buy hand guns (I’m in Texas, y’all), install security systems, practice lock-down drills and move to the best neighborhood we can afford in the hopes that those provisions will keep us from harm. But by guarding ourselves with all these safety measures, we’re building a wall we can’t see beyond.  We’re contributing to the illusion that safety exists.  We hide our eyes from evil, but that does nothing to hinder it’s existence.  Is it possible that as a people, we have confused our longings?   Maybe we long for more than safety – more than just a temporary shield from the flesh and blood dangers of this world.  Maybe our real longing is for security – an eternal protection against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12).

We must not confuse the two.  Playing it safe will never bring us security. Security is only found beneath the banner of His perfect love and there is no safe way to get there:  The security of His perfect love can only be accessed through the cross.  The cross – the antithesis of safety.  No matter how we try to sanitize it and normalize it and intellectualize it, the cross refuses to clean itself up. It is not a shiny, gold charm worn on a dainty chain or a silver James Avery ring. It is rough and wooden and soaked in the atoning blood of Christ.  Those who trust in the cross must not dare try to make it more palatable than it actually is.  There is no security in a cleaned up cross and if safety is what you’re seeking you won’t find it there.

Don’t give up your security in Christ for safety in this world.

There was no illusion of safety for those 21 men whose lives were taken on Sunday, but rest assured that at this moment, they stand eternally secure because He who hung on the cross refused to play it safe.  In the wake of their deaths, the people of the cross look earnestly towards the cross.  Tomorrow, on the first day of Lent, the people of the cross will stare hard, refuse to look away, and intently dial in on the road that led to Calvary.  We remember the thorns, look close at the nails,  examine the spear that pierced His flesh.  We give not just a passing glance, an occasional thought, or an obligatory devotional on our way out the door, but a prolonged concentration on the necessity of the cross in bringing resurrection.

I don’t know where your heart is towards Christ this season of Lent.  But maybe you’re a lot like me.  My faith wavers, my affections ebb and my walk sometimes feels so downright feeble and clumsy.  I struggle and I yearn and I long for the comfort of safety, too.  But this Lent season, I’m going for broke.  For 46 days, I’m setting my eyes intently on the cross.  I’m trusting that He’ll meet me there in all my imperfections and waverings and misgivings.  Encouraged by the lives of those 21 who loved Him, even to death, I’m leaving the shallow safety of the shore.  What might He do in us these next 46 days if you joined me here?

 

 tellhisstory-badge I’m linked up today over at #TellHisStory.  Go check out more of God’s stories there!

Love’s Labors Lost

Today’s the day. Today masses of people ponder one of the most precious gifts God has given with more intensity than on any other day of the year. Today people ponder love. Say what you will about the necessity or validity of this commercially produced and sponsored holiday.  Perhaps you’re a Valentine’s Day hater like myself, or maybe you adore everything about February 14th – heart shaped pancakes and all. Whichever way your sentiments toward this holiday lean, the net effect the day has on each of us is the same, it begs us to consider love.

And because love is so certainly a gift worthy of consideration, I decided to lay my cynicism towards Valentine’s Day aside so I could do just that. While I was at it, I also gave some thought to why this particular holiday – a holiday built around the notion of love – has always given me such pause.  The conclusion I’ve reached is really quite simple: Love can be downright terrifying.

Even from a very young age, I never carried any illusion that love could exist without the strings of heartache attached. I didn’t have to look any further than my immediate surroundings to see the interconnectedness between love and loss. My little family was crushed beneath the weight of the lost labors of love. Divorce, division, brokenness. The after effects of my parent’s separation can still be traced to this day. Battle lines were drawn, allegiances were formed, possessions were divided and the house was sold. As my parents’ relationship dissolved, I looked on as twenty years of their love’s labors were lost.

And that wasn’t lost on me.

I came to fear that I would lose in that same way. That I would work, invest, plant and labor in my affections for another person, only to end up with a loss.  I couldn’t find a way to guarantee against this happening.  In fact, it seemed much more likely than not.  And that terrified me.  This predicament is not mine alone: it is universal in it’s scope. It’s been a consistent theme throughout the story of mankind since almost the very beginning.  So much so that you can feel the weight and devastation of the lost labors of love all throughout the gospel narrative.  Not just between husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, but much more significantly, between man and God.

Adam and Eve turn from the Lord God their creator at temptation’s first beckoning call, and it seemed as though God’s labors of love were lost.

The Israelites neglect the God who freed them from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, and it seemed as though God’s labors of love were lost.

Judas betrays Jesus into the hands of those who would kill him, and it seemed as though God’s labors of love were lost.

Peter denies all affiliation with Jesus, and it seemed as though God’s labors of love were lost.

Yet despite the consistent turning away of this people from their God, there remains an undercurrent of hope all throughout the gospel story – a promise that one day love will win.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:19-20

No matter the betrayal, the passivity, or the idolatry committed against Him, God’s labors of love would not lose. So bent was our God on bringing a hell-bent people home, that he would enter into death to redeem them there. And God’s motivation?

For          God          so          loved           the         world, that he gave his only Son… John 3:16

Love.

Despite all the times love’s labors were lost on us, God continued on in His pursuit of us. Until finally at the cross, love’s labors won.

So, yeah, love is a costly endeavor.  And you and me?  We’re never guaranteed a win when we love another person.  We’re all flawed and fallen, carrying suitcases of baggage behind us, and sometimes the best we can do is just limp right along.  People leave and betray and deny each other and we can all be so fickle in our affections.  But there is something about loving another person that teaches us something about His love for us.  And His perfect love, which never loses, is able to cast out our fear of love’s labors being lost.

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February’s Four-Letter Word

Today I am guest blogging over at Houston Moms Blog!  I just love this city-wide mama resource and couldn’t be more thrilled for the chance to pop in over there.  Click here to get to HMB and read my thoughts on February’s most controversial four-letter word. Don’t forget to share your own thoughts on all the Valentine’s Day hype in the comments section below the post on HMB.  I’d love you to hear your thoughts on this topic.  See you back here real soon!

 

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On a Wire

I watch as this guy on tv walks a wire across the Grand Canyon, of all places. From where I sit on my couch, 43 feet above sea level, I don’t envy his journey one bit. He dangles 1500 feet above the rock hard earth with nothing but a 2 inch wire separating him from the fall. No harness. No net. Wind whipping wildly about him. He nimbly traverses each tedious step and I think, “Well, isn’t this a metaphor for life?” A series of carefully weighed steps over the great unknown, where one false move could un-do you.

That’s the feeling I’ve been fighting and it’s turned me into a make-shift tightrope walker. Only in my mind I’m balancing a stick stacked with spinning plates, too.

But the part of me that knows the truth says there’s something about my feeling that doesn’t ring true. I realize that my perspective has been tainted. I’ve been battling a lie that the enemy is bound and determined to get me to believe. “You’re fragile,” he’s been insisting. “So easily broken,” he lies. “Your situation is tedious. Precarious. Slightly off-kilter.  Careful how you proceed, my dear. I’m afraid you’re setting yourself up for a fall.”

Everyday is a battle of weighing truth against lies. And when I tether myself to the enemy’s lies, living life is like walking a tightrope.  There is no grace.  The margin of error is nonexistent.

I turn up the volume on the tv and play the clip of this dare-devil tightrope walker once more. And then I hear the word that brings the whole crazy scene into focus. That guy hovering over the Grand Canyon keeps repeating one word over and over again.  Jesus.  He says it again and again, “Jesus.”

Jesus is what keeps our tight rope walk across the grand canyon of life from being one false step away from certain demise.

The sound of Jesus’ name coming out of that tightrope walker’s mouth opens my eyes to how intentional the enemy has been in his deception.  He’s been hard at work since our story began turning God’s good truth into lies.  While it’s true that I may be fragile in this garment of flesh and bone, and oh so apt to take a tumble, there is nothing fragile, precarious or unsteady about my situation. I am His.

Because I am His, I don’t have to live this life like it’s some sort of  tightrope walk. As if one false move could un-do me. Where my flesh fails, His grace abounds.  When I derail, His presence remains.  My fragility becomes an asset instead of an embarrassment because when I am weak, He is strong.

Just yesterday I told my friend, who’s walking a tightrope of her own, “The road we’re on may be narrow, but thank God we can walk it with thick, clumsy steps.”

That tightrope walker, Nik Wallenda, knows well the risk he’s taking every time he ventures up on that wire. His great-grandfather fell to his death while walking the same rope back in 1978.  But I gather that Nik also well knows the anchoring truth that once you are His, there is no fall so great that it can take away your life.

 

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Proof of Life

To call me a middle-child is to oversimplify my situation. I was born number three out of four. Not the first-born, not the baby, not the middle child, but one of the middle children. So being the 2nd middle child makes me, I suppose, an especially middle child. However you want to label it, my formative years were entrenched in “middle-ness”. This basically means that I was destined to be a people-pleaser from the moment I made my debut; my birth order practically demanded it. And whether I like to admit it or not, I play the role well. For as long as I can remember, the happiness of the people around me has been exceedingly important to my own happiness. I’ve always felt as if I needed to do what other people wanted me to do. I’m the peace-keeper, negotiator and kin-keeper of the family. But probably the most prevalent aspect of my life as a people-pleaser is that I really want (need?) people to like me. I mean I really, really want people to like me. A corollary of this need to be liked is that I have a hard time dealing when I know that someone doesn’t like me. Given this, there’s been this tiny little (read: huge, gigantic) tension in my post-conversion life every time I read words like this…

Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 1 John 3:13 {What? Why would anyone hate ME?}

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. John 15:18 {Awww, now that’s not fair, no one should hate Jesus for crying out loud.}

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Luke 6:22 {Does that really say blessed?}

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:19 {Hold up here, Jesus. You’re telling me that people are going to hate me because of you?}

Each of these verses is a slap to the face of a people-pleaser like me. But the message is clear – the more you love Christ, the more the world will hate you.  Needless to say, I’ve had a hard time reconciling my love for Jesus with my need for others to love me. In the past, it has caused me to toe the line between expressing an “acceptable amount of religion” and a complete love for the Lord with caution as I’ve tried my very best (in true people-pleaser fashion) to do both. But the Scriptures leave little room for such fancy footwork. I’ve attempted to get to the bottom of this conundrum as I’ve studied the Bible. Is there any way I can avoid being hated because of my love for Jesus?  Can’t I please people and the Lord at the same time? These questions have haunted the people-pleaser in me. And then recently, I ran across the answer when I wasn’t even looking for it when reading the story of Lazarus.

By the time we meet Lazarus in John chapter 11, Jesus was already making quite the scene. Crowds of people would follow him around to see what miracle he would perform next. In the first ten chapters of the book of John, Jesus turns water into wine, heals a dying boy, feeds the 5000, walks on water, and gives sight to a man born blind. I think we can agree that this is an impressive resumé, but in John chapter 11 Jesus ups the miracle ante when he raises Lazarus from the dead.  Four days dead in a tomb, Lazarus obeys Jesus when he says, “Come on out of that tomb now Lazarus”.  Although awe-inspiring in and of itself, what caught my attention was not Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus but people’s reaction to Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus…

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. John 12:9-11

The chief priests hated Jesus because he upstaged them. He taught with an authority that they had no access to, but why would they hate Lazarus? What had Lazarus done wrong? Somebody, tell me please, what a dead man could possibly do wrong?!  I re-read the story several times as I struggled to find the answer and then it hit me – the only thing Lazarus had done wrong is that he had dared to live. Lazarus stood as living proof of the resurrecting power of the God-man Jesus. Lazarus gave everyone around him, who knew him, who knew of him (see John 12:17-18) – the proof of life that only Christ can give. All Lazarus did to gain the spite of those who hated Jesus was to live the life that Jesus granted him.  As followers of Christ, we too, must be willing to accept that we will be hated for the proof of life that we offer - if we dare to offer it.

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And that’s a big if. Because here’s my hunch. My hunch is that we try to play down our proof -and the longer I’m a part of the church-going crowd the more my hunch is confirmed. We downplay our Christian lives as one tiny aspect of our identity instead of proclaiming with our lives that it is the very fabric of our identity. We relegate the presence of God in our lives and the work of God on our lives to a footnote of our story instead of giving it it’s proper place as the point of our story. We tiptoe around the beliefs of others to the extent that we extinguish our own and as a result we offer no proof whatsoever – we play dead. And the enemy loves this.

After all, how can we glorify a Savior that we’re a little ashamed of?

Because we don’t want to be hated, we minimize the impact that Christ has made. But that is not the proper response of life that has been changed by Christ. There is a clear purpose for each of us who would proclaim Him as King and that, quite simply, is to PROCLAIM HIM, which you can’t do quietly – not even for the sake of pleasing people.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  1 Peter 2:9

Maybe like me, you’ve toed the line between an “acceptable amount of religion” and a complete love for Christ. Maybe like me, there’s a people-pleaser in you who fears being hated. Maybe like me, one day you’ll get tired of playing dead.  My prayer for each of us is that, like Lazarus, we would be daring enough to display the proof of life that Jesus has given us.

Fitting the Same Old Things into a Brand New Year

I stumbled all the way through that long December month like a blind man just trying to find his way home. Groping, searching, and staggering, each December day forced me further along until finally, I limped into the dreary January landscape with all the bumps and bruises that the previous year inflicted. With one quick flip of a calendar page, January 1 turns us to a new year and it’s time to begin yet again. Behind me, the months past are reduced to nothing more than history, memories, and a few well-learned lessons.  Up ahead, a new year beckons me onward. I take a deep breath in and hold it for several seconds as I prepare to go under once more.  I get tired just thinking about it. I don’t feel ready to begin again.

How do you start a new year when you still haven’t recovered from the last?

How do you begin anew when you’re still the exact same person that the last year left behind?

I can’t speak for you, but nothing extraordinary happened for me between 11:59 pm on December 31st, 2014 and 12:00 am on January 1st, 2015 to make me think I could withstand this new year better than the last. I didn’t grow any new defenses, learn any necessary skills, or become a new and improved version of myself in that one minute’s worth of time. Those 60 seconds came and went and left everything exactly the same. All the same old stuff in a brand spankin’ new year. And the truth is, I’m having a hard time figuring out how to navigate the same old things this whole new year.

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That’s the place I find myself in this first week of January – that vulnerable place of having to begin again when the last time around left you a little busted up.  By no means without hope, but weary from the journey nonetheless.

In this condition I sat down early in the morning on January 1st to seek His face and lean into His will for this coming year. Understanding that my current state was no surprise to Him I earnestly inquired, “What do you want for me this year, Lord? What do you want from me this year?” And like a blade of light piercing through all those dark shadows and hidden places in my heart, He spoke, “For you to know me better”.

That was it. No lofty expectations. No long lists of do’s and don’ts. No weighty requirements. Just lean in. Draw close. Come near. Even in my busted-up state – with all my pride, and disappointments and misplaced hopes – He still wants me to come even closer.  Oh, Jesus, your sweet mercies never cease to amaze me. They insist and they persist and they refuse to desist from pursuing the one who straggles behind.

So I opened the book he’s been calling me toward for the last several weeks – the book of John.  The first book of the Bible that I ever read.  I still remember my brother telling me all those years ago, “This book will teach you everything you need to know about Jesus.”  I had been reluctant to return here again, thinking that surely, in all the time I’ve spent studying His word in the years since I had first opened that book, I had progressed past that first book I ever read.  But then again, I guess we never grow past the place of needing to know more about Jesus.  So I begin again…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

God wants to say something to me through His Word, so I return to that very first book

He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

The Lord wants me to understand more about who He is, so I tune my ear to hear His Word

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Lord reminds me of His presence amidst the dark places in my life. The Lord reminds me that

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

He reiterates in my heart the truth I know but lose sight of in this dreary January landscape

the darkness has not overcome it

Yeah, so maybe this last year was tough on this middle-aged mama. There were twists and turns I didn’t expect. I faltered and fell on more than one occasion.  I lost hold of some things that I didn’t want to lose.  I entered this new year with some scrapes and bruises that will take some time to heal, but the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I may have limped into this new year on nothing more than a wing and a prayer, but he beckons me on with His simple request, “know me better”.  Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  I guess new years aren’t just for fresh, shiny starts, but for the busted-up and beat-down who seek to continue on, to trudge past, to push onward toward Him.  Maybe that’s what this new year is all about.  The same old me, drawing closer to Him.