January 29, 2021
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"He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'" Matthew 17:20 (NIV)
It was raining and chilly on Sunday morning. The windows were open, and I rolled over and pulled the covers back up to my chin. We could have opted for in-person church worship, as the website indicated there were spots available. But we had gotten into the practice of watching online - coffee in hand - in our pajamas. And sadly, watching online had become a gateway to not watching at all.
As I went to make the coffee, I noticed the unmailed, new year pledge card for our church contribution sitting on the counter. I was late sending it in and honestly wasn't feeling much like a cheerful giver anyway.
The year 2020 had worn me out. And during a time when I should have been hitting my knees and opening my Bible more consistently, I began closing up, pulling away and shutting down. It wasn't sudden, but gradual. It wasn't deliberate but more of an unintentional shift. I wasn't angry with God; I was just lackluster about the rituals surrounding the practical applications of faith.
In Matthew 17:20, as Jesus is explaining to the disciples the reason they are unable to heal the epileptic boy, "He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'"
But in 2020, everything felt impossible. It was like I had allowed my faith to wallow in the year 2020 along with the rest of me.
Well, what better time to pull myself out of a rut than the start of a brand-new year? I decided if the mustard seed was still in there somewhere, I could begin to bloom in my faith again. It would be like a "rebuilding year" for a sports team that had lost most of its best players and was starting over with fledgling talents rather than superstars. It might not happen overnight, but I would begin laying the solid foundation for improvement.
I began to make a to-do list for the upcoming year:
- Read and Pray Dutifully. This year, I want to really dig into the Word. Perhaps I'll find a new Bible study to do. Or a new plan for reading through certain books of the Bible. Or find a new time of day that works better for my dedicated prayer time.
- Worship Intentionally. 2021 seems like the perfect time to make a plan to get back on track with regular worship. Even if it's worshipping online, setting the alarm clock and holding myself and my family accountable to be in the "pew" - otherwise known as the couch - will help establish a routine and schedule.
- Love Unconditionally. I could use some extra grace right now, and I'm sure that goes for everyone else too. Being more understanding and gracious sounds like a good place to start, beginning with my immediate family members and extending out to strangers.
- Give Joyfully. When time and money are stretched, this one feels especially challenging, but if I learned anything from the end of last year, it's that not giving felt especially yucky. We are blessed so we can be a blessing to others.
Like I would with any list of goals or resolutions, I need to have realistic expectations. None of this will happen overnight. But with a littlefaith and big prayers, in 2021 I can inch toward becoming the person God created me to be.
Dear heavenly Father, let the dawning of the new year refresh and enliven my spirit. Remind me that though my faith may be depleted, it's not dead. Help me make this year the "rebuilding year" for my faith. Use me, my time, talents and gifts to help Your Kingdom. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Luke 13:19, "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches." (NIV)
2 Thessalonians 1:3, "We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing." (NIV)
As we prepare for Easter, discover how Jesus’ death and resurrection affect what we long for most. Take a journey through the storyline of the Bible in 40 days with The Answers to Your Deepest Longings: 40 Days Through the Bible. In this study, you’ll see the major themes through Scripture, how they are all connected and what that means for us as we celebrate Easter this year. Along with your purchase, you’ll receive a digital download of a 40-day reading plan! Click here to get your Study Guide.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How can 2021 be a "rebuilding year" for you? What are some changes you will be making to deepen your faith this year?
Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Kelly Barbrey. All rights reserved.