Thoughts For the New Year

It is a year ago now since I first started reading the Gospels. I was not a Christian then. But I was seeking a relationship with God that I did not then have. I didn’t believe that Jesus was God. And I didn’t think I ever would. I had no clue who or what the Holy Spirit was. I thought maybe some kind of a ghost. What I thought I was doing was seeking to find out how Christians were able to have the kind of personal relationship with God that I also wanted.

I’ve come a long way in the past year. Right now one of my strongest needs is to forgive, or no – I think forgiveness isn’t it – to honor myself as a still fledgling Christian. I am not “failing” or “behind the curve” when I can’t find within myself the same spiritual maturity that I see in those who have been Christ-followers for a long time already. I am learning. Which is more than “okay” – it is exactly what God expects.

Some things I already know about learning:

  • Learning takes work. There aren’t any shortcuts.
  • Learning is messy. Confusion happens. Mistakes are made. They’re not failures. They’re a critical part of learning.
    • Corollary: You can’t be ashamed of your confusion or your mistakes, because you need them to learn from.
  • Learning never stops.
    • Corollary: You can’t wait until you’re “done learning” to use what you are learning.
      • Imagine if you decided you wouldn’t ever pick up a violin or try to play it until after you knew everything there is to know about playing the violin.

Another thing I need to work on is self-acceptance (which is more than just the absence of self-hate).

  • Whatever my flaws or shortcomings, God already knows about them and wants me as part of His kingdom anyway.
  • Relax.
    • You don’t need to prove yourself “good enough” to earn God’s love. God made who you are, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
  • Jesus’ ministry on Earth was a ministry to sinners, broken people, misfits, outcasts, outsiders, the humble and the meek. The more broken or flawed or imperfect you feel, the more you fit right in.
    • Tongue-in-cheek Corollary: My Bible must be missing the part where it says Jesus is only interested in perfect people. Because I can’t find that anywhere.
  • When God calls you to do His work, don’t try to get out of it. Just Do It.
    • The Bible is full of people whose first thought was, “Me? Who me? No wait, You’ve got the wrong guy…” But they let God lead and they did just fine.
  • God’s leadership is supernatural – it doesn’t follow the same rules that worldly tasks do.
    • There are times when when it is perfectly appropriate to say about worldly tasks, “No, I really don’t have the knowledge or the skills I’d need to do that.”
    • But God promised that He would provide us with whatever we need to do His work. He does that in supernatural ways, and you need to trust Him to do that.

Finally, spend more time with God. Like — really with God. If prayer or Bible study or anything else is getting to seem routine and unsatisfying, change it up. Try Christian meditation. Or try schlepping boxes at the local food pantry. But whatever you do, do it with God, not just as some kind of worldly routine.

I’m making a note to come back and re-read this whenever I’m feeling lost during this coming year.

Happy New Year!

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