Like many, I create New Year’s resolutions. Like most, I don’t achieve all of them. I adopt Bible verses to try and live often as my resolutions. This year, Jud and I developed a mantra of ‘Afraid but Brave’ to live out for the year. We have lived in the shadows of life for several years because we didn’t trust the healing in our hearts. This year, we decided to test the scars to see if the healing held. Jud volunteered at a hospice organization and experienced his first client’s death. I spoke out more for people whose voices seem limited or silenced in some circles. We initiated a few meetings as we searched to broaden our friendships. We walked through some tough revelations of heart and soul as we dug deeper to find God’s heart and not just rules of the church.
As I look over all that 2013 offered us, I realize the difficulty navigating through it. I started the year having finished a book that I threw at the walls more than once as I read it. The book rocked my theology and I didn’t like it. Now, a year later, I find that I needed the challenge to some of my beliefs about what ‘biblical’ means and how to allow the Holy Spirit to write His law on my heart and not obey rules to earn God’s acceptance. In the messiness of learning a deeper Grace, I lost a couple of friends–and will likely lose more in the coming years as Grace and Holiness meld into my soul.
Good intentions almost ended in ugliness that would have sacrificed relationships. I thank God that He mitigated the consequences before those intentions became reality. I will continue to learn in the coming years how to support, encourage and celebrate friends’ life events without agenda. While I fell on my face often, this year has taught me the value of a contemplative spirit, intuitive knowledge and merciful heart. I paid more attention to Jesus’ way with people, and God’s ways and thoughts became clearer.
Filtering the whole Bible through the life of Jesus changed how I approach the Bible and what I expect from it. It has become more fluid and alive. It no longer represents a static ‘owner’s manual’ or ‘blueprint’ for life. It now reveals a conversation God started long ago with mankind and invites us into the conversation with Him. Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, pointed out that God spoke to Moses in his time and culture, to David in his time and culture, to Jesus in his time and culture, etc. I am learning to hear God speak His truth in my time and culture. When His revelations seem to contradict what the Bible ‘clearly’ says, I no longer dismiss His voice immediately. I now sit in that uncomfortable place and ask the Holy Spirit what needs to change–context of the verses, my hearing of His voice, the church’s traditional doctrine? I remain in discomfort with several new thoughts.
With each of my three pregnancies, my belly stretched beyond what I thought possible. This year, my heart showed amazing elasticity. I look forward to seeing the life begun in it grow into adulthood. I know it may take a lifetime; but what could be more noble than transforming into the heart of Christ and seeing ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth….’
May we all reflect back on who we started this year off as, and who we end this year as. My prayer is that we are all becoming more and more a reflection of God’s grace, the Holy Spirit’s fruit and Jesus’ life.
What growth have you seen in yourself this year? What was the hardest lesson?