Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Birth...

So the down time hasn't been all bad.  Over the past week, after I was able to spend a whole day with Tolkien, the dwarves, elves, hobbits, and a couple wizards, I was able to spend much time in reflection.  One of the things that kept coming back to me was how I had let my own personal devotional time get pushed out of my schedule, once again, by the busy-ness of the ministry.  It happens.  It happens a lot, not just to me, but to scores of folks who do what I do.

So, here is an attempt to remedy that.  Actually, this was how this blog got started over two years ago.  New birth came out of failure.  During Lent, 2010, I failed miserably at self-denial in preparation for the celebrations of Easter, so I decided to add something to my life instead of take something away.  Thus, a return to the LIFE Journal, and the birth of this blog.  Ok, so every entry wasn't from the life journal, I know.  Ok, so a lot of them were written as rant, I know.  Some of them really ticked a few folks off.  But hey, what did Hank Jr. say? "If it's in him, it's gotta come out." 

Today I'm returning to a spiritual discipline that has been a little lacking of late.  I confess that.  I need to get back to journalling, and the Life Journal is a pretty good tool for that.  The format for the Life Journal is illustrated by the acronym SOAP:  Scripture... Observation... Application... Prayer.  Each day of the year is assigned a set of readings, and today's was Isaiah 65 and 66, Psalm 62, and John 3.  Following this plan, you can read and reflect your way through all of scripture in a year.  I picked the readings back up a week or so back, but had not taken the time to journal yet, so today's the day.

Today John 3 spoke to me, so here we go.  The reflections are fairly short, and at the end of the reflections, a short prayer is written for each day.

Scripture:  John 3:5 (The Message)
"Jesus said, 'You're not listening.  Let me say it again.  Unless a person submits to this original creation - the 'wind hovering over the water' creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life - it's not possible to enter God's kingdom.'"

Nicodemus could not see the possibility that God can actually operate outside the realm of our understanding.  Birth, to him, was only, and could only be, physical. 

It happens so often.  Nicodemus wasn't the only one who had difficulty comprehending what is possible with God.  Sure, physical birth is one form of beginning, but there are others.  That moment when we, like Peter, realize the bottoms of our legs are getting wetter, that we can't do it on our own, and reach out a hand...a form of new birth.  Our independence sinks into the water, and our dependence on the God who created us draws us out of despair. 

The moment we cry out in frustration, disappointment, or hopelessness to the God who calls us into a new way of being, leave the old ways behind, and step onto a path that will allow the good work begun in us to be birth.  First, though, we must lay down our ideas of what is, and what is not, possible.  

So we, like Nicodemus, sit in the dark, scratching our heads and asking, "How can this be?"  It can only be when we lay down our ways and submit to the original creation.

God of new birth, hear my prayer for all those who are seeking but not yet finding, who can no longer live as they are but are unsure of how to be anything else.  Guide them into the peace and possibilities that new birth in you promises.


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