It all started as it often does - in restlessness. I was looking around for something new...something different...something hot off the presses to inspire me in a fresh way spiritually.
I scanned my bookshelves, gave Amazon a quick once-over and resisted the urge to ask facebook friends for a recommendation.
After meditating on it for a few days, I decided to go to The Book of all books - the Bible. From experience I knew that the ancient text was as fresh as the daily presence of the Holy Spirit within me. I decided to simply read the book of John and not only that, but to write the book of John. Even then I had to resist the urge to create a John Journal and "art" it up. I mean, that would be really cute and creative, right?! The problem is I'd tried that in the past and ended up focusing on cute and creative and letting the Scriptures slide.
I see all those amazing Bible journals on Pinterest and Instagram and once I almost ordered a special Bible with wide margins just for the purpose of having fun with colored pencils and watercolors. But I know me. And me is the kind of gal who would get too caught up in the margins and lose sight of the meat in the middle!
So I went with simple. I grabbed a note pad, the pen within reach and began reading and writing. I'm still not finished with John. I read. I write. I make some notes along the way. Because there's an ease to it, I do it. Any pen, any color, any time of day - just read and write it down. It's not cute. It's not art. But it is authentic to me. Oh, I do admire the Bible journals with all the pretty watercolors - 'cause you guys know I love my watercolors - and I enjoy all the creativity of combining Bible chapters with such color and line! Maybe one day, I'll give it a try and be able to still focus on the faith-filled words on the page - but #nottoday.
Julie Gillies writes about walking through this life "with authentic dignity and holy ease" in her latest book, From Hot Mess to Blessed . I wrote about my take on "authentic dignity" a few days ago. I hope you take five minutes and read it. 😘
Holy Ease - From years of Bible teaching and studying, I know that "holy" is to be set apart and "ease" is the absence of difficulty or labor.
Just typing the word "ease" allows me pause to breathe deeply and gain fresh insight into the discipline of taking time to simply read the Bible and write it down. Both the reading of the physical page and the writing by longhand (rather than the staccato tap, tap, tap of typing on my laptop) slows me down and helps me listen to The Teacher and absorb the old text that is ever new.
One bit of insight I've gained from reading and writing from John is a phrase from chapter one. John (the Baptist) is questioned by the priests and Levites sent from Jerusalem. They arrive to scope out what in the world is going on with all his preaching about repentance and a greater One coming after Him because He came before him!
They ask the Baptizer, "Who are you that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?" (John 1:22 NJKV)
What do you say about yourself?
Well...what do you say?
What do I say?
What do we say about ourselves?
Admittedly, sometimes I say mean things about myself. I talk ugly to me.
I say things to myself about myself that I'd never say to someone else. I try to guard my heart when it comes to what I hear. There are certain stories I don't read when I see the link on social media. I guard my eyes and my ears and I really try to watch the words that come out of my mouth about others.
But what do I say about myself to myself?
Do I unwittingly, or perhaps just carelessly, play right into the hands of my enemy when I talk ugly to me?
What if I took a cue from the man wearing camel's hair clothes and eating locusts and wild honey?
John said the truth about himself. He knew his purpose and his place in the Kingdom of God. I don't think John wasted his breath berating himself or saying mean things about himself. Can you imagine? It sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?
John didn't respond, "I'm the weirdo wearing the hand me downs from a camel." Ridiculous, right?
But how ridiculous have I been lately? I've said things like this in the past month alone: "I guess my time is over." "Maybe I'm just not good enough for that anymore." "I'm being so terrible! What's wrong with me?"
Typing those words makes me feel pretty silly. What do I say about myself? <insert tears>
When I, or you, start saying those kinds of things about us, maybe it's time to go to God and ask Him to give us some better words.
Oh, God! That you would remind us of our place and our purpose in Your Kingdom! Let us not waste the breath you gave us in berating ourselves but in bettering our hearts to honor You in every word we speak. May the words of our mouths be acceptable in Your sight. And that includes the words we say about ourselves.