Your NFC – January 3, 2014

Click HERE to read the entire January 3, 2014 issue.

by Michelle Akins pastor, children and families

by Michelle Akins
pastor, children and families

I kept hoping to have some profound spiritual experience over Christmas to share with you. So I put off writing this article. Instead I think God wanted to teach me (again) to simply enjoy—or at least endure with some sense of peace—the journey. Oh, I know it sounds cliché. It is. Cliché or not, following Jesus is a process. Perhaps you can relate. Like me, you’d rather have a grand moment of enlightenment, a special day or meaningful event to mark on the calendar to remember as a “life-changing” moment. A time you can definitively say, “I get it.” But life-changing moments happen every day. We wake up, interact with the world, communicate with God, and our life changes. Some days we speak hope, live loved, and share a bit of God’s grace. Other days we snarl at those around us, stay locked in discontent, or lack forgiveness. Whatever happens, our experience of life here on earth is altered bit-by-bit by our daily choices and responses.  The mysterious/scary/exciting part is that God has given us the power to modify not only our own experience of life but also the lives of those with whom we interact. In essence, my words, actions, and decisions have positive or negative consequences for others. It’s inevitable that life is relational (messy). God created it that way. I’m thankful that God also does good redeeming work and that my personal interactions aren’t the “end of the story.”

I’m wondering if a focus on gentleness might just be the companion you and I need for this complicated journey. Something from a recent study on the book of James at Women’s Bible Fellowship has been gnawing at me for months. Wisdom from heaven is described in James 3:17 as this: “…first of all pure; then peace-
loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Beth Moore says, “True wisdom has a gentleness about it, doesn’t it? Harsh people are never wise people. They may be smart. They may even be right. But they are not what the Bible calls wise.” This quote has spoken deep, convicting truth to my soul. It’s inspired me to soak in gentleness for 2014. Instead of barking, “I can’t believe I (or you) just did/said/thought that!” I am asking God to help us speak and act with wisdom as defined by James 3:17. The gentlest response might simply be to listen well.

Friends and companions on the journey, thank you for the wisdom you share with me and with one another every day. Your written and spoken words and your prayers enrich life in immeasurable ways. It is an honor to worship with you at NFC, to serve alongside you, to struggle together, to laugh together. I recently heard a sermon that helped me articulate what I’ve felt for about a decade. The pastor named some of the ways we live in relation to God and people. Life lived: under, over, from, or for. Living life “for” God and people is often marked with a sense of disappointment; you always wish you could do more, yet you’re often drained by feeling you are doing too much. There is little time in this sort of living to enjoy the journey. It’s not a gentle way to live. Living life “for” God and people isn’t completely terrible (I hope not, because it’s the way I tend to relate!) Life in “for” mode is task oriented and passionate; it loves to “activate.” But it often misses something important: living with God and people. As we relate and respond in 2014, I pray we will seek gentle, everyday, life-changing, journeying-together moments; speaking and acting with wisdom from heaven.

Click HERE to read the entire January 3, 2014 issue.

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