My Bible is falling apart at the seams. So much so that the entire book of James fell out on the floor at Lima Estates during our recent Bible study. My Book is already held together with two types of duct tape, and several of the thin pages are also taped together with clear tape. I’ve got names of people I don’t even know written in the margins and on the pages of the concordance, reminders of prayer requests since fulfilled. I’ve got notes in pen, pencil and even marker – to the point I can’t even read anymore what some of the scripture says. It’s time to get a new Bible. After expressing this aloud to the women in my Thursday study – it was exclaimed that I couldn’t do that! I have all these notes and all these memories! This is absolutely true – and I do plan on keeping the Bible. On a shelf. I mean, have you ever read the notes in your margins after a couple of years? Sometimes they just don’t make sense anymore, or the point that was so illuminating to you in a sermon has lost meaning, or you have difficulty remembering the circumstances that made that verse so profound.
Sometimes we have to throw the book out.
Hear me for a minute. Anyone who has ever spoken to me for any length of time, has heard a single sermon of mine, or sat in one of my Bible studies, knows that I have familial issues. I have a lot of family that goes in three different directions (at least). It’s challenging for me. Marco and I recently spent the weekend with my family in Virginia for a late Thanksgiving/early Christmas dinner, and something changed. I can’t tell you anything specific that happened, or about a moment when everything changed; I can’t give you a word, a conversation, or a feeling that came over me; I can’t tell you about any of that. But I can tell you, that for some reason (the power of God) I was able to set aside all of my resentments, all of my negative feelings, all of the sad and mad stories of my life that I had told and re-told over and over again, and instead – experience immense gratitude, love, and a deep appreciation for the people in my life whom I love so much!
Time takes time, and Healing takes time. And for whatever reason (the power of God), I was able to throw that old book out. That book that contained a bunch of junk that just wasn’t true anymore, and frankly, it wasn’t true about my family either! That book contained stories that no longer made sense; it held points that I was angry about – though I had forgotten why. Or perhaps it just didn’t matter. I couldn’t even remember the circumstances that made that ‘one’ argument so important. All of that was old and tattered and ripped up. So I threw it all out.
In the spirit of all that is loving and good, I offer to you the ‘Set-Aside’ prayer, which I sometimes use on Sunday:
Today – help me to set aside everything I think I know about others,
everything I think I know about myself,
and everything I think I know about You –
For a new experience of others,
A new experience of myself,
and a new experience of You.
2000 years ago Israelites and Gentiles were compelled to set aside everything they thought they knew about the Messiah, because the Christ didn’t come like a military general, or like a lion from the tribe of Judah. Instead, he came like a lamb – as a small, beautiful, miraculous baby. Can you remember the feeling when you held your own child for the first time? In Jesus, God is saying that he feels the exact same way about us. God sent Healing into the world through a baby, enveloped within the love of a family that instantaneously had problems from the start. It seems like God is saying, “Take heart, I’m with you and I’m in this[mess] – it’s okay.”
This season is a living reminder that it’s time to write a new story. Fill your book with stories of that indescribable gift that God has granted to us, in both our earthly and our heavenly families.
Healing takes time. But, Glory to God - it happens.
“And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.”