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Monday, January 5, 2015

Let’s Try Something New This Year

Happy New Year, friends!

Each new year brings a need to refresh, reset, restart.  I will be more thankful, grateful, serene.  I have grand plans, if not concrete goals or resolutions.  This year I will be better, more accomplished, more focused.  It’s a great feeling, to start anew, but inevitably life says ha, ha.  Things really aren’t so different.  You really aren’t so different.  Move along; the hamster wheel is slowing down. 

Great feelings gone. 

All I want is a little peace and contentment with what I have, and maybe a little bit of motivation to do one or two teeny, tiny, *big* things.

Gentleness.  Peace.  Contentment.  These were things that Paul wrote about, characteristics he displayed and taught to the new Christians of the churches he ministered.  He used his own life as an example, told them how in everything he did and in every place he found himself, he learned to be content, whether in need or in plenty, in good times and in bad.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure not Paul.

Sometimes I wonder if I would be more like Paul, more outspoken about faith and definitively more Christ-like if I had a dramatic conversion like he had.  Though he also killed Christians up to the moment of his conversion, so... 

Dramatic life = dramatic conversion.  That doesn’t really describe me.  Not even a little bit.

It’s easy to romanticize and simplify a life like Paul’s, one painted with broad brushstrokes, the big moments highlighted and the small ones glossed over.  It’s easy to overlook the details.  In his writings he certainly didn’t dwell on the moments of his life that we all face, those moments in the middle of the night when we are gripped by panic about small things.  That wasn’t God’s purpose for him, to go into detail about those moments.

He most certainly had them.  Right?  Imprisonment, shipwreck, beatings, health issues – the man had problems.  I don’t know that I fully believe that Paul didn’t struggle under the weight of his problems, that his mind was a steel trap filled with only godly things, banishing all dark thoughts. 

We don’t really see those moments of weakness from Paul’s life.  I’m projecting them for sure.  I like to know that even the strongest among us – those who exude confidence and righteousness and positivity and all those good things that we are all to aspire to display – are also human, just like me.  I like to think that if Paul, the greatest missionary that ever lived, had struggled with life knowing all that he faced and still found a way to trust God’s truths and be content with them within the context of his life, then I can find a way to do the same.

I like a little personal connection with my saints.

Fortunately, the one who Paul tapped for inner peace and contentment is the same one who is there for me.  God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit – there are actually three.  Three beings who are present to draw strength from, to lean on, and to model my life after.  The same Good News that Paul preached and taught the churches to have faith in and rely upon is there for me.  For all of us.  Our job is to acknowledge it, believe it, and trust it.  When we give our worries and negativity over to God, we will experience that peace. 

In small moments I have felt that peace, when I remember to go to God first with my troubles.  With practice I hope to seek God constantly, in everything that I face in life, the good and the bad.  I will see what Paul experienced then, in my own context.

This year, like every year, I hope to get a little closer to Paul’s peace.

*******

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

12 comments:

  1. Andrea,
    Lot's of food for thought here. I always assumed Paul had his moments when he was scared and tired as you said above he had some problems. But seemed to know how to stand on the Word. On God's promises. That is the one thing I am constantly trying to get better at.

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    1. You and me both, Mary. Good to see we're in good company. :)

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  2. Love your thoughts here! To think that this man Saul once left on voyages to bring back believers as a way of "cooling" his anger...this guy named Paul seems like quite the opposite. It really does show how God's in-dwelling presence CHANGES people, way beyond their name. Great stuff here!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Bethany! It would be so much easier to see a dramatic change, I think. But eeeeks... the drama - it scares me! I don't desire a shipwreck. :)

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  3. Great stuff indeed. Great article Mary!

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  4. As usual, you made me laugh and you made a lot of sense. I'm sure Paul had his wrestlings (if nothing more than his "thorn"). I like a little personal connection with my saints too. But yes, I've been praying for the peace that surpasses all understanding as well.

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    1. I'm always trying to get under the surface - What else went on there? There had to be more! - but have to be satisfied with what I am given. Thanks Jennie! xo

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  5. "In his writings he certainly didn’t dwell on the moments of his life that we all face, those moments in the middle of the night when we are gripped by panic about small things." - I like this quote. He didn't beat himself up over his past either. I do. My goal this year is to remember I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139) So I can face ALL my moments with grace. @bloomingwithjoy.com

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  6. My son was just reading to me about Paul today. An article about an atheist converting to Christianity. Let me see if I can find it...

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    1. I think he's a fantastic role model, but Paul is so out of my league when it comes to major moments with God. I'm a little star-struck, I think. Thanks for finding me here! xo

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