Friday, January 3, 2014

january First Friday Finds

I haven't spent enough timing seeking real truth these past few weeks.  

We've been reading our advent Bible readings and all that jazz but if I am honest I was resting more in the ritual than the relationship.  Rituals can be a good thing, but...
Rituals don't care when you are hurting and struggling.  Relationships do.
Rituals don't get all up in your business.  Relationships do.
Rituals don't surprise you by meeting you in unexpected ways.  Relationships do.
Jesus is a person.  People connect through relationships...not rituals.

I've spent a lot of time combing websites and perusing cookbooks for help but so often I forget where my help really comes from.  It comes from a person...not an accumulation of knowledge.  

Even when I remember who to go to for help I so often do all the talking.  
Blah Blah Blah Blah
I am a master at praying and laying my life down at the throne of God but I have a tendency to stand from my knees too soon and walk away before I hear what he has to say.  Relationships require listening...finding out what the other person has to say on the matter.  There is one way you can be sure to hear from the One who wants desperately to speak to you...

Last night I took only a moment.
I read only one verse.
I was headed for bed but I paused.  That book of truth sat still under a pile of bills and lists and advertisements on my counter but I heard it whisper to me.  There's been so much drowning noise in my head lately but last night I heard.
I pushed the pile aside and opened those pages just ever so slightly and then it was me that was was torn open.


I was finally ready to listen...ready to find...and be found.

In an instant a few words spoke to me about this new year so I quickly whipped up a simple piece of artwork to share with you.  It wasn't until after I posted last night that I felt the need to dig deeper because a simple verse is never just a simple verse.  As I began reading other translations and commentaries I wished I had chosen another version to share with you...so I did.  It's my blog and I can do that, right?  The first NIV version is still beautiful and true but there is something more I want you to discover from these other translations...

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. 
  the wagon tracks
You crown the year with your goodness; your footsteps drop prosperity behind them.
  the foot paths

What happens when a wagon rides over and over the same track?
What happens when someone treads over and over the same path?

The ground becomes hard and bare...
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
  the hard pathways

...and yet even the most deeply worn tracks, the hardest of pathways, produce abundance and prosperity in the presence of the one who brings life and growth in the hard places.  

The suffering and the grieving and the frustration and the disappointment leave us feeling dry and cracked and unable to produce anything good...
and yet the feet of God fall softly on that dirty, worn track of our lives and something beautiful begins to grow in their wake.

His presence is all we need for life to sprout up - lush and new.  
You crown the year with your goodness; and richness overflows wherever you are.

When we find Him...we find life.

What if this year we locked arms with one another and squeezed in tight and agreed to step into his presence...to step into new life.
Imagine how far that one step could take us...imagine what we might find there.

And before I go any further I absolutely must say this...
This is not an invitation extended only to professional writers or to those who regularly read their Bibles or even just for those who proclaim to be Christians.  It would be so incredibly awesome if even those of you who aren't completely sure what you think about the Bible or about God stepped in close with us...seriously...I would love to hear what you find too.

So...I'm reaching my arm out to you now.  Here's how you can join in...

On the first Friday of every month we are going to take a few moments to find what our hearts really need...the grace words of our Savior.  The goal is simply to open the word of God and let it speak to us.  Here are a few parameters because parameters make me feel safe and help me focus...

1 :: Open your Bible {or turn it on}.  If you don't have a Bible I will gladly mail you one...just email me.  Or you can hop on-line at www.bible.com and check out any and all translations.  I spend a lot of time in the ESV, NIV, NLT, and MSG.

2 :: Find ONE verse.  You can randomly choose.  You can search for a keyword.  You can flip to a particular chapter.  You can go back to something you ran across earlier in the month.  However you do it, just take a breath, allow yourself to be guided to that spot and then see what you find.  This isn't the time to go back to an old favorite...it's time to discover something new.

3 :: Read your verse.  Read it again.  And again.  Look at it in various translations.  As you read, don't  be too focused on how you can say something profound about the verse but instead allow the verse to say something profound to you.  Even if it's slow going at first...give it some time.

4 :: 15 minutes flat.  That's how much time I want you to take to write your response.  After you've taken a little time to let the words settle into your spirit let us know what you hear...what you've found.  If you don't hear much it will be a short post and that's ok.  I want you to set a time limit because if you feel the need to do more you may not do it at all and that would be a shame.  I'm also setting a limit because I want to read all of your responses and if you write a dissertation I will never get through them all.

5 :: Link up {by clicking the little blue button below}.  There will be a link posted right here the first Friday of every month and it will stay up for a week so that you can connect to our little community of First Friday Friends.  
No blog?  No problem...you can 
leave your verse and notes in the comments section below or 
write it down and take a picture...tag your picture #firstfridayfinds or
tweet it or instagram it or post it on FB with the same tag.

Praying that in each moment you sow into the grace words of God, the harvest of your life will be plentiful...let's see what we can find together...
{feel free to use this graphic when you link-up on your blog}