A New Year
2019 is upon us. Can you believe it? I LOVE turning the page on the calendar. For me a brand-new Jan 1, Amy Knapp Christian, spiral-bound calendar is something to behold. Doug keeps wishing I would reject my paper calendar and go electronic. We could sync and share and merge and all those handy, helpful, efficient tasks. I’m trying to join the 21st century and migrate, but the struggle is real.
For me, the vision of a calendar alone is powerful. A crisp new empty calendar invites possibility. A clean slate and a fresh start. Promise. Hope.
I so look forward to the ritual of changing calendars. With thought and intention I carefully transfer existing appointments. Which pen should I use? Blue for me, Black for Ian, Red for family etc. I’ve never fully sustained my color-coded practices, but with high hopes I start strong every Jan 1st.
Last Year in Review
The final step of the ritual is to move the ‘old calendar’ to the bottom cupboard. Past. Done. Gone. But not before I reflect on the departing year. Overall, in 2018, I have a lot to be thankful for. But, while living through the day to day, among the trees there is even more I’m glad to have behind me. The last couple of months especially have been a slog. They have required endurance, fortitude and sheer grit. I’m tired. I fantasize of escape.
As the saying goes, if you’ve met one person with a traumatic brain injury, you’ve met one person with a traumatic brain injury. Just like a fingerprint, each TBI is unique adding to its mystery and unpredictability. Oh joy. Ian’s healing is immense and miraculous, but it’s also like an iceberg. We are still discovering what lies underneath. The physical healing, it appears, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The arduous 100-mile marathon we have been on is far from over. We look to take refreshment at each way station, not certain when the next one will appear.
As I face the blank pages of my new calendar I can’t help but wonder what 2019 holds. I think about what I can do to make it better? Aww yes. Resolutions. I’m not alone.
Every year, millions of people make New Years resolutions hoping to spark positive change. The recurring themes include goals related to health and fitness, finances, and skills for personal and professional development. Chances are one or more popular resolution is on your to do list too. They all sound great. Helpful. Important. But, just like my color-coded calendar, the trouble with resolutions is that they fade.
For me 2018, a year of tough circumstances, can be blamed for more wrinkles, more gray hair and some unwanted pounds. But thankfully, God also made His indelible mark. I’ve grown more spiritually this past year than in all my years’ prior. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
More Mary, Less Martha
As I consider my 2019 resolutions, I’m planning on an intentional shift, from DOING to BEING. As I like to think about it, More Mary, Less Martha. For context read the passage in Luke 10: 38-42. I identify, even empathize with Martha. Of all the bible characters with control freak tendencies, Martha tops the list.
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Before we demonize her, can we please take a moment and stand in solidarity with beloved Martha. I don’t know about you, but I would have been right there in the kitchen with her.
Jesus was coming to her home. She wanted to make things special for Him. What is so wrong with that? I imagine that I would have been standing right next to dear Martha. With indignation, she and I would sigh and complain about that lazy Mary. While multi-tasking of course, we would scurry around the kitchen in our frantic self-righteous busy-ness.
Doing vs. Being
As I look to scripture, God never intended for us to be in a constant state of DOING – even if it’s good stuff. God is more concerned with what is on the inside than what is on the outside.
1 Samuel 16:7 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
From what I can surmise, God is more concerned with our BEING than our DOING. After all we are called Human Beings, not human doings.
What if 2019 was my “BEING” year? A year to rest in an understanding of who God says I am. A year to let my “BE” inform my “DO.”
The Armor of God
“The Armor of God.” — the section of scripture that prepares us for battle. Here is an excerpt…
Ephesians 6:14-17 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
If God has imparted any wisdom at all in these past few challenging years it is that life on earth is a battle. And to be best prepared, I must wear His armor. Each piece of armor belongs to Him and comes from Him. And all are gifts to His people for their defense.
1. The Belt of Truth
John 14:6 Jesus answered,“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
God chose you. As a believer, God chose you. He wanted you and desired you. He picked you. Believing that truth protects your heart. It creates a secure foundation for your life and helps you weather others’ disapproval. Bask in your chosen-ness. (1 Peter 2:9)
God loves you. You’ve heard it so many times that it may not seem all that profound. Yet, it is. The creator of the universe, the Lord of the cosmos loves little insignificant YOU. More than you can even imagine. And on top of all that love, He likes you too. He wants nothing more than to have an intimate relationship with you. And because you’re human and frail and helpless, He even made a way for you to relate to Him in all His divinity. Jesus. AND best of all NOTHING can separate you from his audacious love. (Romans 8:35, 38,39)
2. A Breastplate of Righteousness
God made you righteous.
Can you imagine how glorious life would be without any guilt? When you accepted Christ, God declared you righteous. You can walk into life this year like you have nothing to feel guilty about – because you don’t! You can stop clinging to past mistakes and failures and start walking out the truth of your position in Christ – as a righteous one. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God grants you His Grace The moment you said YES to Jesus you were set free once and for all. There is nothing you can do for God to love you any more; there is nothing you can do for God to love you any less. That means NOONE or NOTHING can take that freedom from you — Not your job, not a toxic relationship, not unsettled sin, not even religious expectation. He’s paved the way. Embrace grace; be free! (Galatians 5:1)
3. Feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Lord pieced you together very intentionally. Nothing about you was an accident. You can take confidence knowing your Creator created you just as you are. (Psalm 139:14)
You have purpose. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever your life experiences, talents, physical ability, or role – you have significant purpose. (Ephesians 2:10) The gospel of peace is the message Jesus gives to those who trust in Him. Be ready and willing to tell ‘your story.’
God equips you. It is human nature to want to direct our future. We think if we direct our future, we can manage the outcome. News flash… stuff happens that is beyond your control. A ready person never needs to get ready. He already is ready. As the phrase goes… Ready, Willing, Able. I’ve found that the solution to being ready is to be willing. And He will make you able. (Hebrews 13:21)
4. The Shield of Faith
The shield, the first line of defense, is unique. It is the only part of armor that requires the wearer to “take up”. In other words, you have a part to play. Faith doesn’t come naturally. Faith is founded on the promises of God. And to strengthen your faith it must be exercised through trust.
To clarify, faith is a noun. It is something you possess, “evidence” of things both hoped for and not seen. (Hebrews 11:1). Faith in God is the confident belief that He is the sovereign Creator of all things and that He can and will do what He claims.
Trust, on the other hand, is a verb. It is something you do or act upon. Faith always comes first, but trust is not guaranteed. It is a willful choice, a deliberate action, and can only grow out of your faith.
Stuff happens. The unexpected takes you by surprise. But you have faith. And the Object of your faith never fails. Lean on the Faithful One. Exercise your faith by trusting Him with the little. This makes your faith stronger so you’re able to trust Him with the big. (1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Corinthians 2:5, Proverbs 3:5,6, 2 Corinthians 5:7)
5. The Helmet of Salvation
Can you imagine supernatural protection wrapped tightly around your head to safeguard your mind from any mental assault from the devil? Your mind is the battleground of your life. It is where wrong thinking takes root. Renewing your mind with scripture is the antidote. Only with Protection from the helmet of salvation can you foster perpetual hope. You believe His promises including the best is yet to come. (1 Peter 1:3,4, 2 Corinthians 4:17,18, Jeremiah 29:11)
6. The Spirit as your Sword
God’s very presence, The Holy Spirit, is your traveling companion. And you’re empowered with offensive ability with the word of God, His Holy scripture.
When you are weak He is strong. Does a mountain loom ahead? Trust you’re able, not because of your abilities but because of how He’ll empower you. On those days when you feel your humanness most deeply, be confident you have enough, because He is enough. (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
The Lord goes before you and is with you. You have a hidden and infinite source of bravery and strength. While others are tossed to and fro by circumstances, you endure. You are strong. You live courageously. Because the God of the universe has promised to always be with you. And resting in that knowledge will make you strong and brave.(Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9)
My prayer is that 2019 is a defining year for you. Not because of anything you’ve done. But rather, who you have become. More Mary, less Martha.
Join me in wearing His armor. Bring on 2019!
Jane Meginnes says
I want to thank you for the healing and hope I am receiving from reading your blog. Even before reading today I have had thoughts that were similar to those you expressed. I hope to have the grace to have “more Mary” 2019. Brian and I feel this past year the Holy Spirit has called us out of our comfort zone, challenging us to examine where we are in Christ.
Our faith suffered from lack of trust. We take responsibility for our own failings and look forward to renewing our minds and hearts in 2019. Your blog is a blessing to me. It has helped me feel more free, embrace grace again and rest in who God says I am. In fact, I think you should expand your ministry into your community. All that you have been through, the vulnerability you display and your love for the Lord equips you to offer support to others in need. Many blessings in the new year of hope!
Wow Jane. Thank you for your kind encouragement. God does equip when we’re willing. Please encourage your friends to subscribe directly. If you think they too would be encouraged. I do need to grow my readership as I work towards my book. Prayers for you and Brian as you step out! He’ll catch you… I’m sure of it.
I needed your encouraging words so much! Thank you for allowing yourself to be God’s conduit. I’m such a Martha, but this year will hopefully be a Mary year!
Margie, Thanks for writing. Honestly I think her kitchen would have been quite crowded with all of us Marthas! So pleased to know that we can make changes with His help!
Paula McPherson-Koy says
I’m a “color coded” organizer myself. Yellow: Christmas card sent: Blue: Christmas card received. Orange: Note change of address to next years hard copy. I would never survive in an electronic world at Christmas time. I also have a calendar. I’m thankful that my husband shares the same calendar. (:
I loved the breakdown of the Armor of God. Beautifully written! I need to remember to refer to that more often. I’m always working toward slowing down my “Martha” & revving up my “Mary”. Life is so much more simple & relaxing when I can “BE” & not have to “DO”. Thank you for your teaching thoughts & words! Happy New Year to a fellow color-coding friend. Be blessed…Paula Koy
Color coders UNITE. 🙂 Thanks Paula. It was a lot of work to associate all of the scriptures but I plan to use it as a working document and so pleased you can benefit too. I appreciate you writing.
Mary Seal says
I, too, am certainly a Martha. I would feel GUILTY being a Mary (even though I am Mary).
I love the first of the year. As you said, there are all sorts of possibilities attendant to January 1st. I don’t get too crazy about it, though. I heard a radio talk show host (a woman) describe how when she was a child, her mother believed that EVERYTHING in the house had to be clean (laundry, dishes, floors, linens) by midnight on December 31st so that the new year began with a clean slate. That practice by her mother had burdened this woman’s adult years because she couldn’t escape it or bring herself to ignore it. YIKES! The idea seemed just a little appealing, but fortunately, it never really grabbed hold of me. Happy new year, I say to you from my somewhat messy house! 🙂
A Mary who is a closet (or not so closet) Martha! Thanks for your ongoing support. Happy New Year to you! Debbie
Anne Kole says
Debbie, I tend to be a Martha, although I do find rejuvenation through quietness with the scriptures.(It’s my introvert way to deal with stress). And I too love my paper calendar. I TRY to use the electronic one a bit, but it just isn’t the same! I don’t color code, but what a great idea!
Thank you for the best elaboration on the armor of God that I’ve ever heard! I am very aware of a being in a spiritual battle, but I’ve learned that I grow spiritually when I am in the thick of it. I’m going to re-read your writing about God’s armor. I find I need that armor all the time, and I must not take it off. And you know what? It isn’t heavy like some medieval suit of metal. God’s armor is light and strong! I appreciate you reminding me of that!! Love and Happy New Year to you and your family!
What a helpful aside… Yes… His armor is NOT heavy. It is oh so practical and a perfect fit! Happy 2019 to you.
Karen Chalmers says
Wonderful article Debbie. I know you hear hundreds of times how well you write but you do!
I realize that at least for this point in time, I am blessed with an empty nest & do not feel bad about that at all. However, I also realize that the freedom of that can change at any moment and must be prepared. Ephesians 6 is such an important verse in the life of a Christian, thank you for drawing attention to it. Learning to “be” is not passive.
I too, love my clean paper calendar! 👍
I agree learning to BE is not passive! Amen. Happy new year Karen.
I was thinking about the human doing vs human being part about three paragraphs before you got there! Great minds huh? A blessed new year to you and yours!
Ps how about the snow? Crazy weather!
Ha! Of course you did. Feeling a bit house bound. But it has been fun. Especially since we don’t have to travel til this weekend! Happy New Year. Much love. D
Bridget Behe says
Spot on (as you are so often)! I’m with you there and have been more like Mary all my life! I have to work to see Martha’s perspective. While I’m more aware today of “being” and not “doing”, it is still something I’m working on. Happy New Year!
WOW… a natural Mary. You’re among a short list on my left hand of people I know. Glad to know that even as a Mary… intention is required for being vs. doing.
Susan Pitts says
Do you remember teaching Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World? That was the first Bible study I did at NPC and you were our teacher. I sat there thinking you were the pastor’s wife, mama of two and you were teaching this study! I was amazed but then you were the pastor’s wife so you knew this stuff, right? Going through that study made me realize that my Martha tendencies were keeping me from the best yes there is. The yes to dedicate more to him. The yes to dig deep into the scriptures and find Him in the midst. The yes to let the Holy Spirit wash over me and show me what I need to know. I’m always amazed at how I come out of a sermon sure in my footing only to find my best friend came out with a completely different perspective. Then I question if I heard it right? Yes I did. I heard the Holy Spirit’s gentle teaching nudging me to a better yes. While our world reveres the Marthas, and wants us to all be multi-tasking machine Marthas, the Holy Spirit keeps me firmly planted in my Mary heart. To many that’s just strange. To me that is the best yes. Thanks for teaching that study and keep up the blogging, it’s definitely your best YES!
Do I ever remember that! You were my guinea pig class. And no I didn’t know the stuff. I was a living example of how God equips the called… and not the other way around! Thx for your kind encouragement. So happy to hear of your growth and observations of His work in your life! Keep at it faithful friend! 🙂