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. 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.[a] 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
For a helpful framework I look to Ephesians 6:10-18. The title of this passage is “The Armor of God.” — the section of scripture that prepares us for battle. Here is an excerpt… 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. He 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!