Friday, December 29, 2017

Star Words Year 1 - Guidance

2017 was the first year I had a word for the year, a star word (read more about where these came from here).  On the Sunday we celebrated Epiphany, we each drew a star out of a basket.  My star said, “Guidance.”  I blogged about the irony of that here.  I noted these two scriptures:

Psalm 16:8 came up the very same day:  "I keep my eyes always on the Lord."
Psalm 25:9 came up the next day: "Humble people seek guidance."

And I wrote Psalm 16:8 on the easel pad in my office…at Westminster
Presbyterian Church in Galveston, TX.  I’m writing today in Sterling, KS where I now serve United Presbyterian Church.  It’s been quite a year of seeking God’s guidance!

In my first blog about star words, I wondered whether this meant guidance for me (receiving) or guidance for others (giving).  I’ve found through the course of the year that I have to keep both in view.  I need it, and I inevitably give it, and not always intentionally.

For the first six months of 2017, we were reading a Psalm a day together as a church, and with whoever was following the 6 Months In The Psalms Facebook page.  I blogged about how this endeavor connected with my star word here.  I did not know when we began, or even by the time I wrote that blog, that by the time we finished reading the Psalms, I would have accepted and started a new call.

I was just beginning to see towards a new call when I posted this blog about guidance and about my goal of remembering and helping others to be in love with God.  I also mention there how God uses Facebook memories to guide me and remind me of lessons already learned that need revisiting.  I posted a lot on Facebook this year with the hashtag “guidance,” but it turns out not to be so easy to collect all those.  I did, however, find a few.  Click the links to read them full size, and note the comments as well as the post.

John 15:5 read post here

James 1:19 here.  

Psalm 73:23-24 here

In looking at these I see how God speaking to me became God speaking to others, as well.  I also noticed how the interaction on some of these posts was also God speaking back to me.  God gives us guidance in so many ways, and through so many different people.  I am thankful for the amazing conversations I get to have with people about God and faith and life.

I am also thankful that the Bible continues to be foundational in giving me guidance.  I began the year doing a read-through using The Daily Message, a daily devotional Bible using the Message version.  It was good at first, but it got to be too much to keep up with alongside the daily Psalm reading.  (The previous year, I did a read-through using The NRSV Daily Bible.  I liked its format better, and was more successful with that one.)

I continue using the Jesus Calling series of devotionals.  This year I used the sequel, Jesus Always.  Sometimes the redundancy gets annoying to me, but most of the time it's good for me to be reminded to keep focusing on Jesus and trusting him, and to keep working on thankfulness and joy and prayerfulness.  

This year CREDO, a retreat for new pastors, was again a factor in God's guidance.  I learned so much about myself at the first half back in 2016.  This year the second half was encouraging and affirming in many ways.  There were lots of opportunities to spend time seeking God.  One one of my walks, I found this little weathered gem stuck to a signpost. (See pic at right)

Over the course of the year, my biggest lesson has been to be mindful of going God's speed.  Sometimes he's moving faster than I expect, sometimes slower.  It's not always easy to keep pace, but when I do, the results are much better and the answers much clearer.  When it seems that he's not speaking, so often it's just because we haven't gotten to the next signpost yet, kind of like driving in the country.  It's easy to get lost on rural roads because there are fewer intersections and fewer landmarks. Sometimes getting to a directional sign will mean continuing to drive on, even if it might be the wrong direction, until a sign appears.  Sometimes it turns out we were going the right way already, and sometimes we discover a course correction is needed.  

One of my big aha's this year generated this meme, which captures something I say a lot and includes some scriptural foundation for saying it. Isaiah 41:13 continues to be instrumental for me, but now it's much less connected to overcoming fear.  So thankful to God for that bit of growth.

In these days of GPS, we have become accustomed to being able to know where we are all the time, but even now there are places where there is no GPS.  But there are no places where there is no God.  Even when I don't know what's coming, God does.  There have been some amazing surprises from following God this year - a new call, our first house, deepening of old friendships and the making of many new ones, and I'm certain that the more we seek him together, the more we will grow in love and grace, and in the joy and peace of Emmanuel, God with us.

Thanks be to God.

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