Every New Year is an opportunity to look backwards and think forward. In my case, as I reflect on the last year, what I see is God teaching me to walk faithfully in uncertainty. That’s how the last three years have gone. Walking faithfully in uncertainty has taught me that the way God uses our circumstances is sometimes unclear, but he still has plans for you. In the last year I have been blessed to work with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) on a project that is nearing its completion. What began as a desire to care for families with mental illness has moved from, trying and failing to start a support group, taking a family to family course through NAMI, and helping NAMI to build a Faith Leader Mental Health Training. Registration is open and the event happens January 26th. Finally, I was asked by NAMI to take the training to be a facilitator for a support group in 2020. This was not planned; it was God using circumstances for the good of his Kingdom. What it took from me was the practice of trusting God, trusting myself, and walking faithfully in uncertainty. Its not about successes or failures, but about loving people and keeping even the smallest amount of trust in your heart.
2020. Tomorrow is more difficult than the past. It’s not made yet, not written, and its undone. Yet there is still something I can say about tomorrow. Experience has taught me that what nourishes me today, is likely to be the thing that helps me tomorrow. That is what I think this next year is going to be about for me, keeping focused on each day, finding what nourishes me, and sharing it, in hopes that it helps all of us tomorrow. So, what is nourishing me today? Right now, it’s the life of Peter “the Rock,” that is giving me what I need today. Nourishment isn’t only found in the Bible. Sometimes I have found nourishment talking to people at the Coffee shop, walking in the parking lot with Rachel, watching how carefully the checkout clerk bags my groceries, or when my Islamic friend always gives me a hug or a heartfelt handshake when he sees me. But right now, it is the Bible and specifically, its Peter’s life. Though its not for what I think is the usual reasons.
Peter gets a lot of attention for his failures, but what I see in him right now is his attention to the surprising presence of God. Here is a man who is frequently surprised by where he finds the Kingdom of God. He finds it in the healing of his mother, the stormy sea of Galilee, when Jesus disarms him in the grove of olive trees, when he denies knowing Jesus, runs to the open tomb, stands at Pentecost, goes to the Samaritans, and then the Gentiles, and in many more ways. Most recently it is his experience at the transfiguration that nourishes me because it is on this mountain that Peter discovers that the Kingdom of God is not located on a hill, but rather all of creation is the resting place of God, and at the same time His presence is embodied in Jesus, in a human being. Peter’s story teaches me to be on the look out for all the ways that the Kingdom of God might come to me. To recognize that the Kingdom of God is not stuck on a mountain. Neither is it tamed by tent pegs, stone walls, or thick veils. The Kingdom of God is a glorious mystery and it takes all my attention watching and living for it. Like Peter, I need to be careful of chaotic waves that might make me shut my eyes. But also, like Peter, Jesus asks if I love him, and calls me to feed his sheep.
What is nourishing you today for tomorrow? Maybe that should be the question for all of us in 2020.