has ushered in
a year of careful listening dedicated watching, actually seeing not, as the world would have me, superficial glances at everything at once. rather, a stopping a staring a studying to see for the very first time. Perhaps this is what the Divine means by knowing. I don't know but it seems so.
Ah, the clean slate of a new year. Fresh off the Christmas holiday, we’re feeling good about ourselves. Time to activate on the new year’s resolutions. Weight loss? Exercise? Quitting that bad habit? Nah, let’s not bother with the small stuff. Let’s go big. “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) That ought to take care of it. If want the Kingdom life complete with all the amenities, all I have to do is follow Jesus.
Such a bold resolution, but my track record thus far is not so good. I mean, while I’m busy looking into the distance for what Jesus would do, I’m fumbling the things at hand. I see his patience with children, his compassion for the sick, his attention to those in need, but it’s not even noon and I’ve already raised my voice, shelved my empathy and affixed my headphones so I can tune out all the whining. It looks so easy when Jesus does it, and so messy when I get hold of it.
This Christmas I discovered a wonderful tool that planted an idea and gives me the hope of a strategy. Of course there were angels involved. These angels began in 1997 when my husband Scot, the amateur woodworker, designed some “lawn ornaments” as Christmas decorations. He, not being one to settle for small projects, designed and constructed three 4-foot tall wooden angels. Complete with wings, hymnals and a working electric candle, these white painted cherubs, must be pieced together and staked up each year as they take their place on our little grassy knoll.
This year, I found out their secret. They weren’t drawn free hand as I had imagined but were traced via pantograph from a design ordered from a wood shop catalog. Aha! Using this magical tool, one only need trace over the original design and the device reproduces the image perfectly in a much larger size. You simply focus on what’s at hand and let the pencil re-trace the image, all courtesy of Read the rest of this entry
What is the magic of January first?
People invest it with such power. The attraction of the clean slate. The leaving everything behind and starting fresh. My resolution is…I firmly resolve…this time I will get it right…starting tomorrow. Why wait? Why not start right now?
I’ve worked with people who have made all the usual resolutions. I’ve seen and experienced the most success with those who have reached a tipping point. They have come to the verge, gotten the edge, have looked over it and said with a resolute voice, “I’ve had enough; I’m jumping.”
But these jumpers are few. The sustained jumpers even fewer. And for some reason these bring to mind Abraham Lincoln’s prophetic words from Gettysburg. “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” He was speaking at a battlefield where thousands of young men lay. Lincoln’s resolution, “that this nation, under God, will have a new birth of freedom.”
I am overwhelmed by the thought, how sincerely Lincoln meant it and felt it, “these dead shall not have died in vain.” And yet they do. Yes, when people die, we take up their cause. We are resolved not to let this happen again. But “we the people” can only do so much. And we repeat ourselves.
What if I, on January 1st, renew my pledge to accept Lincoln’s challenge in a new light. To resolve to live so that Christ did not die in vain for me. That He died to bring a new birth of freedom in me. Freedom from all that separates us. And to do that with each new dawn.
Because each day has its chasms, each moment its temptations. And my life really is just the collection of these moments lived among others who like me are resolved to get it right. Girding up our loins to do better, be better, try harder.
I here, highly resolve that Christ did not die in vain. He came so that I might have a new birth of freedom in an abundant life. Delivered from what tethers from the past, guided toward what is health and wholeness in the future.
May the weight of God’s hand, Christ’s very life, be the tipping point for each of us. Happy New Year.