There is something fresh about a new year. It smells like that first stank of something that has just been busted out of its packaging and is pregnant with possibility. There are dreams to be had and things to pursue and you get this beautiful thing called a fresh start and there is nothing in the column of has to be this way- everything instead seems super open to revision. I like new things.
I have used the same planner for five years and I’ll be honest I’m not sure I even liked it for the last 3. Gone are the college days where I could purchase a plethora of planners and determine my schedule and assignments and organizing needs and pick the gem of the batch and return the rest. For now there is a “well, I have the outside of this one so I better just order the refill pages for $12.” Sometimes life’s urgent matters actually prevent you from perfectly planning out how to conquer the tasks before you. So last year I bought a clearance planner that has open squares so you can use it for any year and I just wrote in it IN PEN. I know I basically need to start wearing thongs and riding Harleys because I am THAT dangerous people, step aside. It is actually life-giving to look at the fresh slate before you and ponder and pray through what may be new this year on those sweet pages. For me, I would like to lead a bible study out of my home. I never went to seminary and I have no graduate degree in awesomesauce interpretation of said bible, but in some ways the reality that I have been going to it since I began to follow Jesus in 1992 and that I still love it makes me eligible. I don’t think I am the authority, I just want to open it up and let the beauty of women who were made by God and whom he longs to reveal himself to digging into the sweet word that we’ve been given and learn what it actually says and what that means both for who wrote it originally, who received it originally, and who is looking at it now. In my tougher seasons I had to learn the hard way that the understanding I had was not enough to carry me through the pain and heartbreak of the unexpected trauma that wasn’t a part of my intended plan for my life. I want to walk with women who long to see God and know God so that what they cling to is firm, sure, and strong especially in times where the ground seems to move beneath them.
In my humble opinion we have a problem on our hands. It is far more appealing in this day and age to follow someone who is following Jesus versus following him ourselves. The problem with this of course is twofold. First off we have all played the game of telephone and what God says to the awesome baller who has a staff of people ensuring that their life looks like the awesomest one in town on social media is then interpreted by said person as well as their large staff and they tweak it to make it the most profitable/marketable/helpful to both you and them. Then your friend sees it and reposts it with their interpretation and we end up with a poor imitation of what was originally intended even for the original hearer. Second, I am so glad that that lady loves Jesus and that he has a word for her and that she was able to decipher that as well as share it, but does that in turn mean that very same message is for us? And if we are banking on receiving all the wisdom from all of the people and following them with our time, effort, and energy, then what will remain for us to sit and listen, study, and grow to hear what OUR message might be from our maker and sustainer? One of the most terrifying pieces of teaching the word to groups is that I am walking into a room where half the people probably need to hear to rest in the goodness of God and slow down and be with God and the other half need to hear that it is time to firm up and step out in faith and do something to live out the faith they profess. I pray as I prepare and I pray before I teach and I pray afterward that the Holy Spirit that knows and sees what each heart needs will both open ears, hearts, and minds to what is profitable as well as close ears, hearts, and minds to what may cause shame and despair. I never assume that the message God has given is a one-size-fits-all and so I depend on and plead with God to do what only God can.
Have we unintentionally left these teachers/interpreters and personas to determine what it is that God has to say to us without seeking it out from the source itself? “You do not have because you do not ask” is perhaps the most freeing as well as most terrifying piece of scripture. Let’s ask. This year let’s fumble our way through reaching for the possibility that God has something for us. Let us read this book he’s left us to know the heart and mind of God and let’s come together and see what it might mean for our year of possibility.