This past Sunday Dennis Simon, the pastor at Mwanza FUMC preached about Jesus’ parents forgetting him at the temple during Passover. He did a great job and presented something about this passage that I have never thought of before. He used it as an example of how we need to focus in the new year, not about losing weight, working out, trying to get a promotion at work, but simply walking with God. Even more profound was simple piece of advice that he gave that we can glean from Jesus’ parents experience in losing him in the confusion of traveling home after Passover…in order to find Jesus we have to go back to the last place we saw him, we have to think back to the last time our relationship with God was strong and what it was about that time or place that drew us close to God. As we look back at that time we will have a starting point for reconnecting with Jesus in our lives. As we enter a new year and exit one of the craziest times of year when we all get thrown off of our schedules and out of the normal patterns of our lives I would challenge you to do what Dennis suggested and look back and reflect on when the last time your relationship with God was strong? What was it about that time?
My strongest moments with God have been during moments of change and flux in my life. The times when my normal foundation, the box I use for making decisions and walking through life gets disrupted, whether it was planned or not, have also been some of my biggest opportunities for drawing closer to God. I think this is one reason that so much of our faith is set while we are teenagers, since rarely is there a time in our lives when we change that quickly. Personally for me, fully moving into the adult world, the month where I graduated college, was married, and lost my mother…and the months that followed was a time in my life that still to this day sticks with me as a time when God and I were close and my faith grew faster than any time outside of high school (at least up to this point). Without that time of growth I never would have been spiritually prepared for the move to Tanzania and the life that Liz and I now live here.
As we move into this new year I have my own small list…in the vast sea of New Year’s advise that has already started and will continue for the next two weeks.
1) Look back and reflect on your relationship with God…where have you been further away from God? Where have you been closer to God? What were the circumstances around it?
2) Be open to change in your life. The times when we step out in faith are normally the times we end up closest to God.
3) As Pastor Dennis said, focus this year on walking with God. You can add the other parts of Micah 6:8 and you will have a full year ahead of you.
ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, and WALK HUMBLY WITH GOD.
Come back and check the blog out in a few days, I am working on writing down the thoughts and reactions from a talk a gave a few times while I was in the US on how to live out our faith in transforming, but also ordinary everyday ways. Hopefully it will be a good way for all of us to work towards that last little thing on the list.