Everyone would like to be a better version of themselves than they are. Except for the people who want to be someone else, which of course is just a recipe for misery.
Mind you, I find the journey to a better me to be pretty frustrating at times. I can see that better life, healthier, kinder to others, calmer in myself… But it’s just not something I can manage alone.
My morning Bible reading reminded me that in fact, we aren’t meant to do these things alone. They are the fruit of the spirit. That is, as we seek God first, he is able to work out a better version of us as we go along.
It has always mattered to me, but has been brought into sharp focus as I approach the mid way point of my pregnancy.
Now I don’t just want to be a better me for my family and for the young people I work with… But R and I’s child… The one that for all these years we thought was impossible.
Even in the face of a miracle, change is mundane. Longer walks with the dogs, starting a gentle exercise routine at home and a new drive on healthy eating:
That and a renewed desire to meet each day with Jesus, knowing it isn’t by might or power that things change, but by his Spirit.
I have died
A thousand tiny deaths
Only to find myself
Back where I started,
A little older
Perhaps a little wiser.
But now my soul
Grows old with weariness,
Life grinding to a halt.
Bury me with You.
Kill off once and for all
Every thing which chains me
Ankle to old earth.
Change me in this fertile soil
Cause my life to germinate
Raise me up with You
To grow and flourish
As I should do:
Shelter for the lost
And food for the pilgrim.
All my life an offering
For your Glory.
I’m on day 29 of the headspace app, and at the moment I am supposed to be doing a particular mindful exercise. Each time I get up or sit down I am to be present to the movement as it happens.
It is ridiculously difficult. Who would have thought?
I mean all it is is getting up and sitting down! It’s a good exercise and makes the point about being present to your own life.
While I was thinking about all this, God spoke to me, and said:
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
Oh wow ❤
Think about it, I’m not even that present to myself, and yet God is.
What love. It fills me with joy just thinking about it.
I long to be present to God in that way, and present to other people. Surely this kind of presence, of selfless attention, is the road to loving God and neighbour, the two things Jesus says everything else hangs on.
Perhaps my mindfulness meditation and practices might help me with this most beautiful of things.
“What if we, I don’t know, call people Beloved instead of Sinner? You know, as if we believe that “God SO LOVED the world He sent his son”
Bible study is one of those things i feel i ought to be able to do with enthusiasm every day. Sadly it doesn’t always work out that way. So, i am always on the look for reading the Bible in ways which will bring me closer to God.
It dawned on me today, that perhaps I could put two things I love together… So smash book scripture it is!
I have a book called search the Scriptures, which I am going to do smash book style and I started today:
I have just listened to Nadia Bolz-Weber on the world service, you can hear her here:
Now it is very easy to get caught up in the so called radical elements of her church, ie their understanding of LGTB people, but that is not what I want to talk about here, important though it is.
Instead I want to mention the beautiful things she has to say about community and real church.
One small enough to know people’s stories, one led by the people and set up in such a way that Jesus is at the Centre, not leaders or music or other things that hamstring churches.
Of course this isn’t heaven, I’m sure the church had its fair share of problems. But listening to Nadia’s theology and ideas for how church should be, I find I have come home. It makes me want to learn more from her and her church and to find ways to replicate it in my small corner of England.
How lovely it is to find someone who inspires you to show more of the love of Jesus where you live.
Its old hat I know, but still true, that the church is its people, not the building we meet in.
So how come so much time is spent acting like that isn’t so? We spend lots of time doing and less time being with each other.
I read this article on pastoral care today and it reminded me that no one ever came to Jesus because of a program. Instead it was the personality of Jesus that drew true discipleship.
Paul says that God is using us as ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2Corinthians 5:20). Note, us, not our buildings or our doughnuts or our super-duper worship/speaking/toddler group.
Paul goes further. He said he became nothing so that people wouldn’t get tangled up in the programme and miss the personality of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
And yet all around me I see the church both traditional and modern getting tangled up in… Stuff.
You know, we could meet in a porta-cabin with a battered old CD player and a packet of rich tea biscuits, as long as we had love. That is, after all how Jesus said people would know we were his disciples (John 13:34-35).
Photo via http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/3/28/1301326990499/Rich-Tea-biscuits-007.jpg
I find the lack of love I sometimes see particularly painful when it comes to young people. We are called by Jesus to love our neighbour as ourselves, and yet again and again I see adults putting what they want at gatherings of Christians before what young people might want or need.
And that’s Christian young people, never mind non Christian folk.
So my prayer for myself and others is that we might truly see and hear the people around us and love them more than our (church) stuff.