Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘John the Baptist’

I wonder if any of you tend to feel a little low at this time of year, despite all those lovely Christmas celebrations and gatherings with family and friends. This is something I have often experienced, especially if my year has been particularly busy or particularly draining in some way.

I remember how my special ‘soul friend’ Joy used to encourage me at such times to listen to my body and take note of what it was telling me. Perhaps I needed physical rest. Perhaps mental relaxation. Perhaps a lifting of emotional burdens—those I carried for others as well as my own. Perhaps I needed spiritual refreshment. Or perhaps it was all of the above. Some of us keep going, don’t we, always tackling that next job or seeing things we feel we should do? No wonder we can end up a little exhausted and spent as our year draws to a close.

So, each year around this time, I try to step back a little and view my year past from a distance, so to speak. Yes, there were those many things I could have done better. And yes, there were those opportunities I did not fully grasp or take up at all, for some reason. Yet there were also those times when I did listen and do what I sensed God was calling me to do. There were those many rewarding moments when I spoke somewhere and sensed God used me in the process, when I completed writing or editing a manuscript after much effort, when I wrote blogs that touched others, when I was able to bless others by serving them in some way. What a relief, however, to know God longs to reach out to me with forgiveness and compassion, despite those apparent failures of mine, and also delights to celebrate and rejoice with me in my successes and achievements!

Whatever has happened this past year then, I can be at peace. And I can stay in that place of peace too as I step into whatever God has for me in the new year. After all, God’s heart in sending Jesus Christ to us was indeed to give us deep peace, not only in our lives here and now but also concerning the life to come. In Zechariah’s song in Luke 1:76-79, we see that John the Baptist’s role was to prepare the way for Jesus through calling the people to repent and receive God’s mercy—that mercy that would culminate in sending Jesus, the ‘rising sun’ to us from heaven:

 … to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Then there are also the angels’ wonderful words of declaration to the shepherds, speaking out hope and peace for us all:

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke 2:14

As we contemplate the year that has passed then, may we each sense God’s favour and peace deep in our hearts. And in the new year to come, may our feet easily find that path of peace God has for each one of us to take.

Advertisement

Read Full Post »

Jo 23Early on in my writing journey, I discovered the unpalatable truth that not everyone is going to love all my literary creations. I remember well how, not long after my first novel was released in 2007, I walked into a small meeting to be welcomed loudly with the following words:

‘Jo-Anne, I’m sorry to tell you, but I couldn’t get past Chapter Two of your book!’

It so happened, however, that this person’s daughter was standing nearby. Her greeting was somewhat different.

‘Oh, I loved it! When’s your next book coming out?’

What could I do but laugh? I look back now and am so thankful to God for helping me realise I cannot please everyone. It stood me in good stead for those times when my other books have elicited entirely opposite responses from readers—or potential readers.

Recently, I finished my ‘final’ draft of my second non-fiction book. I think it’s worth reading. But by this stage, as with all my books, I tend to lose perspective. Maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s my best writing yet. Maybe it’s awful. Maybe I’ve said it all before. No doubt I will soon find this out via the opinions of my manuscript readers and editors. But, while the situations do not bear comparison, perhaps it was this recent book experience that caused me to take particular notice of something I read recently in Matthew 11.

Here, John the Baptist’s disciples ask Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus tells them to report back to John in prison about the miracles they have seen and goes on to speak to the crowd about John, the man who was ‘more than a prophet’ (9). Then, using the lovely image of children playing make-believe weddings and funerals and wanting others to join in, he proceeds to challenge the crowd—and us:

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners”.’ Matt 11:17-19

It’s not a matter of life and death at all if people don’t like what I have to offer. But it definitely is a matter of life and death if they reject Jesus and what he offers. Yet Jesus could not please everyone—and neither could John. Some listened well, accepted their message and acted. Some were in two minds. Some disbelieved and could only scoff and criticise.

I don’t want to be among those who refuse to dance or sing. I don’t want to be among those who do not hear or accept what God says because it doesn’t tick the right boxes, in their opinion. I don’t want to have a closed mind that does not value what Jesus offers. Instead, I want to do just what he suggests I do. I want to join in that dance or sing that sad song wherever and however Jesus leads.

How about you? Is this your heart too?

Read Full Post »