I remember the period of being engaged, (a season of my life I did not particularly enjoy) and longing for the day to be married. I spent many hours praying for the day itself, about it being a witness to our non-Christian friends, that they would hear the gospel with open ears and hearts, that people would be blessed by our preparation and by our generosity. And I spent many more hours praying for our marriage itself, that God would grow in us graceful and humble hearts, that we could live hospitably and have a desire to serve the other always, and to be a reflection of Christ and His love for the Church, and the church’s love of Christ in return.
Post-Christmas, with every day that passes in the lead up to New Years Eve, increasing joy and excitement bubble up in my heart. There is something about the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and the anticipation of a fresh start in the new year which just isn’t the same as intentional times of reflection throughout the year. Bloggers worldwide reflect on their top books of the year gone, write their hopes and prayers for the new year, and provide wisdom and practical advice on how to approach new Bible reading plans or being more engaged in important spiritual disciplines as people start to think about new year resolutions.
You are not needed by God. I am not needed by God. God is all powerful and all sovereign, He is perfect in his character and has always been, long before the creation of the Earth. Yet here we are, living out our lives to share the gospel and make disciples, spending each day aiming to glorify God in all we do, pursuing knowing Jesus and make Jesus known. We do this despite not being needed. Why?
No one really enjoys sharing their weaknesses, let alone their sins. Even if we understand the great benefit that can come through sharing and confession to others (for both ourselves, our fellowship, and even for others learning from our mistakes), it can feel humiliating. We are often ashamed of our sin, discouraged by our failings, and now more than ever through social media, we can really portray ourselves how we want to be seen, having it all together in a ‘perfect’ life – so why would we want to tarnish that by sharing how short of the mark we fall?
As I explored a bit in my first reflective post Reflecting on Reflecting, I think that vulnerability and, alongside it, openness and authenticity is a vital part of Christian growth and community, so I want to share with you one (or some!) of my recent failings and what I have been reflecting on it.
Just recently as I have been reading a few different blogs and articles, and some of the social media responses to these, I have been struck by how quickly we as Christians can be to prescribe labels to ourselves and to each other, even if they are not accurate. Labels are often shaped by our denominations or theological standing, such as being ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,’ or ‘Pentecostal’ or reformed’. Admittedly, the majority of what I have seen has been a fight against being ‘legalistic’, whilst also being very defensive of ‘grace-covering-all’- but I have no doubt that the name-calling and labeling goes both ways, and that judgement is often handed out on those who do not fit into the ‘good-Christian’ image.
Just recently I had a job interview for an intern position (first-year-out doctor) at my local hospital. This interview, alongside a couple of references from doctors I had worked with, determined whether I got to stay where I am currently living and my husband keep his job or if we would need to pack up and move away from our church and families next year. The interview went averagely. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing- I really had no idea what the result would be.