Friday, January 3, 2014

A few years ago, long after I quit making New Year’s resolutions, I took up something I saw all over the internet – OneWord365. Instead of a list of things that you want to quit or change or do, you pick one word to be your theme for the year. One word to focus on. I’ve regretted this decision at various moments, particularly when my one-word commitments have ended up causing me some discomfort and pain. I’ve also seen amazing things happen because of the direction God took me through my chosen words.

As I thought for weeks over what my word would be, I was drawn to a specific theme. It wasn’t as sexy as I wanted it to be. I wanted a verb. Or at least a noun. Something a little more tangible. Last year’s word ended up being so transformational that I had some fairly high expectations and hopes for what my word would be this year. Oh – did I mention that my husband had a word basically dropped in his lap when he was getting ready to lead worship last week at church? And he doesn’t even DO this whole thing. I spent a couple days being irritated about that and wondering why I didn’t feel as passionate about my own word.

After my irritation and second-guessing have faded though, my decidedly unglamorous word remains. This is my third year to do this, and I have learned to trust the process. with copyThis year, the inspiration began with my thoughts on incarnation. The Word made flesh. Incarnation seemed a little bit pretentious when it came to a yearly theme, but I kept coming back to this idea: God with us.

It was that way in the beginning:

”In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God…the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
[John 1:1,14]

And it’s that way in the end:

”Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.”
[Revelation 21:3]

The Message translation says that God took on flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. Incarnation. It’s not pretty. It’s no fluffy white clouds, rapture us up to the skies to be with Jesus kind of thing. He came here. In the most basic and fleshly of human ways. Into the literal dirt. Into the broken, violent, hard world we inhabit. He came here to live, and then? He gave up His very life for us. A life of sacrifice in the middle of the mess. That’s the model. That’s the beginning and the end. To be with.

This year, I want to be with.

With God. In His presence, His presence with me. Filled with His Spirit, not looking to other stuff to satisfy. Christ in me, the hope of glory – there’s mystery in this one simple word.

With my family. Not just together because we share living space. With one another: listening, dreaming, laughing, learning how our stories are individual yet how they intersect for now and for always, figuring out what we’re called to do and serving Jesus together, loving relentlessly even when it’s hard.

With others. A lot of people are called to be for others. Donating money and things, starting programs, serving at soup kitchens, hosting holiday dinners for the needy, prayer walking, outreach Sunday-ing…these are all valuable additions. It’s just that my calling, our family’s calling, is different. We are a family called to be with. To go there. To not just spend time in public spaces but invite them into our home, the most personal and private of our spaces. We’ve been called to go into the mess, into the homes and lives of those who need it most. To act with crazy love even at the expense of what might be considered wise or safe. To share phone numbers, to sit in living rooms, to pray with people rather than for them. We’ve sat with children in the middle of darkest, most traumatic days of their lives. We’ve dug into the pit of hell with them to help them heal. We’ve sat with hurting families in waiting rooms, with broken mamas in their living rooms, listened to their heart cries and sharing our own in return – not offering solutions. Not offering platitudes. Just being with.

I can already trace the ways this ordinary word has transformed my life, and I’m only two days into the year. In spite of its prepositional nature, it’s a little more subversive than it first appears. With is how God came here and became one of us, and with is how we bring the Kingdom too. This is where heaven meets earth, filth and beauty and grit and glory. Jesus told his disciples that the Kingdom was already in their midst. Here. Among us. With us. Flesh and blood.

May my every thought and desire,
my every act of love,
may my very breath ring with revolution:
God with us – this is the Kingdom come.


[image: Death to the Stock Photo]

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