I love January 1st.
It is, bar none, my favorite day of the year.
I love new beginnings. I love blank slates. I love a white canvas, waiting for color and life.
For Brandon and I, much of December is spent discussing the changes we wish to make in the following year. We look back at the past twelve (and sometimes twenty four) months and determine what we liked - and didn't like - about them. We weave our way through pleasant family memories. We stumble through recollections of arguments or difficult decisions.
2010 has been... easy. Compared to 2009, in which we moved to and from a strange land, redefining ourselves and our family, 2010 was simple.
We worked. We played. We settled into a new groove of American living.
And as we look into, and pray over, 2011... one passage of scripture keeps coming up...
Starting with 2 Corinthians 8:1...
(1-4) Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
(10)So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it.
(9:1-2)If I wrote any more on this relief offering for the poor Christians, I'd be repeating myself. I know you're on board and ready to go. I've been bragging about you all through Macedonia province, telling them, "Achaia province has been ready to go on this since last year." Your enthusiasm by now has spread to most of them.
(3-5)Now I'm sending the brothers to make sure you're ready, as I said you would be, so my bragging won't turn out to be just so much hot air. If some Macedonians and I happened to drop in on you and found you weren't prepared, we'd all be pretty red-faced—you and us—for acting so sure of ourselves. So to make sure there will be no slipup, I've recruited these brothers as an advance team to get you and your promised offering all ready before I get there. I want you to have all the time you need to make this offering in your own way. I don't want anything forced or hurried at the last minute.
(8) God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.
(12-15) Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!
More to come...