Monday, December 31, 2018

How We Can All Have a Simple, Beautiful, and Good 2019 (guaranteed)

We sat next to her in the nursing home dining room. She played with a deck of cards made for the blind, braille in the corner of each card. 

She's been my friend for years, and when I'm in the U.S., I find myself sitting with her, listening to her nursing home tales, the horrors of her childhood, how much she misses her husband, and how much she appreciates my visits.

She really wanted to win the card game because the prize was a quarter. She didn't win, but when Dad and I hugged her bye, we left her a couple quarters. 

That's what Jesus is like. And He's making me and Dad like Him. 

It's so simple. And beautiful. And good. 

We sit with Jesus, we read what He says in the Bible, we talk to Him about it, we tell Him about the struggles in our hearts, we live in friendship with Him, He drives us to nursing homes with extra quarters in our pockets, He flies us to India to stay in orphanages and preach the Gospel to people who've never heard it.
It's all together; with Him, and with people. 

Jesus leads some to stay-at-home-mom-life, others to working-60-hour-weeks-dad-life, and some to all-over-the-globe-and-always-changing-life. No matter where He leads, following Him is always simple, beautiful, and good.

Have you noticed that it's easy to let your life be consumed with 4,508,398 things besides being with Jesus? I have. When He starts drifting to the back of my mind, things start seeming less simple, less beautiful, and less good. 

Luke 10:38-42* describes the scene Jesus wants us to live in. A woman named Mary wanted nothing but connection with Him, so she sat at His feet and listened to Him talk. There were probably other conversations happening in the room, and I'm sure many other things she could’ve been doing. But she knew there was only one thing in life that mattered, and that one thing is what she chose.

My life, inside of me, I want to stay like that; leaning in and listening to His voice.

“I have many things to do, but you’ve reminded me to just sit before God,” said the beautiful old Indian lady at a small church in India where I shared about Mary of Bethany. We're all like the beautiful old Indian lady, with many things to do, but God wants to remind us regularly, there's only one thing that's needed. 

 Loving Him completely and wildly, it's what He wants. "First love" He calls it in Revelation 2. He warns us in that chapter that first love can grow cold, that we can forget Him, that burning hearts can get dull. We get busy and we get distracted.  

But we get to sign back up! He lets us come back to first love! He un-distracts us and sets us back on fire! I sometimes let my interior life look away from Him, growing dull and tired, but then He lovingly beckons me back. His beckon always leads me to loving Him more, and loving people more. 

He wants to be loved and that's why we keep breathing. There's nothing fancier, bigger, better, or more important than lovingly interacting with God and then lovingly interacting with people. Jesus said it really straightforward in Mark 12:30-31. 

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is like it, 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

"Undistracted" is the word I want God to use to describe me in 2019. I'm going to live the year in love, with Jesus and with people. 
Will you choose to do the same?

Ask the Lord now, and then on a regular basis, 
"Jesus, help me to know how much You love me and help me love You back." 
Tell Him you want to obey the first and second commandments, and ask Him to help you. Read the Bible and have conversation with Him every day in 2019. It's simple, beautiful, and good. 

*As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”