No More Gold Stars
“New Year, New You” is the cliché of each January. Many highly motivated individuals make a list of goals; others pick a word of the year as a guide. I, however, have lived just long enough to know that my motivation to crush a new year won’t get me past the first week without meeting disappointment Goals seem too lofty, and with a track record of ordinary, I just don’t set them. Motivated yet?
As I believe is stereotypical for someone in their early 40s, I’m starting to see myself a bit more clearly. I’m probably never going to run a marathon. I’m sure I could if it was my single focus, but running really doesn’t interest me. I’m not going to become a highly successful career person, or go viral for my wit or wry writing style. And that’s truly okay. Being unexceptional by the world’s measures sometimes creeps up on me, but by and large I remind myself of what really matters, and how very rich I am in those things. An area of my life that has transformed over the past few years is my approach and view of bible reading. Bible study and prayer are the foundation of the Christian life, but the consistent practice of these disciplines seemed elusive to me.
I was privileged to be raised in a safe, fun, and God-honoring home. I felt the Lord’s clear conviction at the age of 10 that I was a sinner and separated from a holy God. I surrendered to God’s invitation after many excruciating altar calls as my stubborn, childish heart did not want to submit to something greater than myself. I began my journey of faith and experienced the typical highs and lows of someone growing up in the church. Youth camps, lock-ins, campus ministry, summer evangelism projects—I did them all. Each was a valuable experience that taught me new things in the faith and I treasure each.
But like many, despite knowing with certainty that Jesus is my Savior and his Spirit indwells my soul and keeps it secure, I continually struggled with an imposter syndrome. Everyone else seemed to have spiritual disciplines licked, and I just was regulated to the second-string. This has begun to slowly change in my spiritual life as I have found how my unique wiring fits with knowing an infinite God. Long, question-and-answer type bible studies that I have enjoyed in a group setting were hard to perfectly complete. Read the Bible in a year?—I never made it to Exodus. I love the unchanging Word of God, but the antics of the 12 tribes and all their comings and goings—I’m going to trust that God will lead me to more maturity to better understand that, or he’ll catch me up in glory.
I found a love for God’s Word. I found a deeper love for THE WORD, my friend and creator. I found more of Jesus. This came through a Bible reading ministry called She Reads Truth. This ministry creates reading plans that are both topical and inductive, and I jumped right in. I have the plans and passages in my physical copy of the Bible, in my reading app, and in the beautiful monthly subscription book for which I cheerfully pay. I even listen to a weekly podcast that recaps the week’s readings and gives encouragement and perspectives of how the readings impact the hosts and guests. God’s Word “works” for all believers—I just
needed to find a way to incorporate it in my life that was meaningful and consistent.
In this very unusual and uncertain year, my mom died. The reason I was able to walk through this year and not call it a blight was God’s faithfulness to me through his Word. The week of her passing and planning her funeral with my Dad via Zoom calls with the funeral home (that will never not be strange), the Lord walked with me through the book of 1 John. I have studied this book in college and through our church’s wonderful Ladies Bible Study. But this time, reading 1 John with thousands of women around the world, the Word of God, written for all time, felt like it was also written for me. It was as if the Lord slipped those verses on heaven into my hand and said, “This is for you, dear one.”
I like to kid now in any type of spiritual circle I find myself in is that I have broken up with self-legalism. I know without Christ I am nothing. But, in Him, I am a dearly loved daughter and even his trusted friend. He continually becomes more real to me through his Word and its interaction with my daily life and experience. If you have given up on reading the Bible, or have felt that love for the Bible is reserved for the ‘super-spiritual’, let me assure you it is not. My family can attest (in great detail) how very human I am, usually about literal spilled milk.
Friend, don’t give up. Begin again. Ask God to show you places and people of encouragement. There are no gold stars in the kingdom. Only crowns we will cast before Him.
This article was written by one of our lovely church members. If you are a member at Central and would like to write an article for the blog, please contact our editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Central Baptist Church and how you can become a member of our congregation, please visit centralwr.com.