Formation

Taking in the Greatness of God Changes My New Year’s “Plans”

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As we make plans for a new year, I am reminded that there is a Divine paradox ‘in us making plans for a new year’.  Isn’t it God’s plan, God’s story? Then it’s not up to us! We can relax and be free to just go and be in 2016. And YET, here’s the paradox, it’s not up to us but God chooses to use us – us! – whether we’re…

Old and barren like Sara and Abraham—

Incredibly young like Daniel, Esther, Josiah and Mary–

Unable to speak like Moses

Equipped with merely a sling before a giant, and a harp before a mad king, like David

Running the other direction like Jonah, sneaky and self-centred like Jacob, called to a foreign land and people like Ruth…

Or as ‘first followers’ worrying, doubting, arguing, questioning, denying, betraying…

It seems that God chooses those without exceptional talents or extraordinary goodness, smarts, beauty or incredibly well-thought out New Year’s plans! None of that seems to matter. What seems to matter, is that we are available to God.

Maybe that should be our first (and only?) resolution, plan, goal for the year…

Oh, that I might be fully, wholly, deeply, truly, sacrificially available to You, Lord.

That you might mold me and make me after Your own…

That I might love You, live for You, follow, obey and serve You only-

Bearing witness to and for the sake of Your Kingdom come NEAR.

In Your Coming, you made Yourself fully, wholly, deeply, truly, sacrificially available. Isn’t that what Christmas, Incarnation, Emmanuel is all about?

Oh that we might – I might – make myself available to you and to my neighbours as You have made yourself available to us – the world You love.

How?

By pondering again and again, the Greatness of our God (Deut. 10:17, Ezra 5:8, Nehemiah 8:6, Psalm 95:3, Daniel 2:45, Titus 2:13) – “He will be great…and of His Kingdom there will be no end”(Luke 1:32-33). It might seem simple but if we are to be God’s Sent Ones, bearing witness right where we live, then we need to know, not just in our heads but in our hearts – in our very being and doing, that God is indeed the Great One, the Greater One, the Greatest One:

Indeed, the humble Saviour, vulnerable in a manger is greater than anything we mortals can come up with including Zombies, orcs, Death Eaters, ‘The First Order’ and…the good Force’s that overcome them! Whether real or imagined, in the world or beyond it, ‘God among us’ diminishes such created greatness and changes how I think about the year ahead.

In fact, acknowledging that the Eternal, universal, all powerful, all wise, all loving Sovereign One – has moved into our neighbourhood, and is tabernacling with us, changes everything.

Acknowledging that the all loving Sovereign One has moved into our neighbourhood changes everything. Click To Tweet

How does such knowledge, too wonderful for me, so high I cannot attain it (Psalm 139:6), change everything and thus determine how I will approach turning the page on another year? Why is this “Knowing”  so important ? Because… 

  • I need to know that the Triune One is GREAT enough to handle all of my misguided planning, failures, problems, hurt, frustration, and even my anger towards Him. I need to know that my God can and does carry the weight of the world on His shoulders even when that weight includes refugees, suicide bombers, injustice after injustice, global warming, disease and so much more.
  • Secondly, I need to know that our God is GREAT enough to care. That “God with us” is great enough in love and mercy, grace and compassion to care about everything—even the number of hairs on the head of the aborted child, the beaten black man, the abandoned elderly, the long suffering hungry. I need to be assured that our great God not only can do great things but that God wants to do great things. Sometimes this is hard to believe.

Yet Christmas teaches us this, doesn’t it? Again and again we affirm that God’s choice to become one of us is a declaration and demonstration of His willingness to do anything and everything for the sake of the world He made, his Kingdom come, peace on earth and goodwill to all (Luke 2:14). We long for that day in all its fullness.

  • Finally recalling the GREATNESS of God bursts all the boxes and bubbles into which I tend to put the Lord of the Universe. Immanuel shakes and tumbles my preconceived notions and Sunday school prescriptions of who God is and who I am to be as a disciple. Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God blows up my predetermined ideas about my life, church, mission and— my attempts to make new year’s plans and resolutions according to my agenda and defaults.

I need to pause and ponder: How might I not strategize and plan but rather listen, discern, pray and prepare according to the God who has come in all His Greatness? How might I simply trust and follow?

How might we – as His people, His Sent Ones – begin 2016, not with resolutions but with resoluteness and simple faith; faith, not, that we have what it takes, but that God does?

Paul says in Ephesians 3: 14-21 (MSG)

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

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