One week into the new year I tried to write this post. Then several days went by with much distraction and a nasty nasal infection. Another week went by while my mind tried to make sense of it all. The more I find other things to do and the less time I spend writing, the more it seems that nothing makes sense.
Each year I choose a verse to focus on either in my prayer concerns for others, or in my own life and the way that I try to live out the gospel. The verse that I chose to focus on for the year has been written on the black board. A few years back someone gave me a little chalk snowman message board. The dust of the chalk tickles my nose so much, that I chose to use it to place my vision verse for the year. Last year it held the verse from Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
What impossible things did I see God do last year? The most obvious was my daughter finding love and getting married. We also saw several babies in the extended family enter our world. My nephew and his family moved back to be near family and had many God moments including brain surgery. The most exciting impossible to me was that my husband began exercising and lost 35 pounds las year! Wow.
(And of course, because I made a new year’s resolution to write “no matter what” now I have a head cold that settled in my face and is making it both difficult to read, and focus on the task- I think I used one half the box of tissues already this hour!)
This year the verse that seemed to stick was Matthew 7:2b “And with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” The passage is the most familiar “Judgement standard” that most people look to in their decision on accusation of another’s lifestyle. However, I am choosing to take the passage into it’s entire context and consider another option. Generosity. Giving.
Later in the same sermon on the mount Christ Jesus admonishes that how much we forgive is just how much the Father will forgive us. This si not a concept often discussed. The Lord’s prayer that everyone is so familiar with is followed by a controversial suggestion that I have never heard a Sunday message about. Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” NKJV
No one in all of my years as a Christian has taught the concept of “conditional forgiveness.” The whole of Christian teaching that I ever received did not include this verse. Pastor’s throughout my life have preached free grace, free will, unconditional everlasting love. But no one taught me this. A little bit of youtube study found me watching veggie tales and the “grapes of wrath” video about forgiveness. I found it a bit lacking in solid faith concepts and hope that my family does not think it is the best source for any theological studies.
What I know about this “measurement” of forgiveness is this”. Knowing how much God has forgiven me, gives me an unmeasurable amount of forgiveness for others. God’s mercy is vast and deep towards me and my measurement towards others ought to be bottomless. Seventy times seven is not even the measurement we should use, but rather seventy to the seventh power which is more like 825,430,000,000. If it’s been awhile since you have done math like that, the number is 825 Billion!
Whoa! That seems impossible, but with God remember all things are possible.
So now that I have had my soap box moment, what other measures will I be making this year? The above prayer shawl has been warming my shoulders lately as count how many there are in the box that need to find a new home. Three hugs will be passed out at some point. Meanwhile two others have begun.
The newest prayer shawls have some old patterns revisited. Finding a new pattern is part of my goal for the year. The apache tears prayer shawl pattern was used for five shawls last year. Using the spider stitch has also been fun. It’s much easier to spend time in prayer when I don’t have to think too hard on the pattern I am using.
The new year has is about starting over. The new day is about starting over. Sometimes taking a project that was nearly complete and starting all over is just the “beginning again” that I need to keep me going. What other work could I do that does not require me to throw it away and start all over? I like taking and old item and making it new.
There are three colors in the above shawl that are recycled yarns from some other project that was pulled apart and made new. This type of resourcefulness is measuring and remeasuring and pouring one valued item into another.
Being several weeks into the new year and finally touching up this writing has made me a bit disappointed in myself. The measuring stick I put up for me has once again found me lacking. Not enough of my “performance” to measure up to my own expectation. Forgiving myself seems to be the theme for the year already.
Rather than putting up a judgement standard for myself and others, I hope to measure out generous amounts of forgiveness. Pour out pitchers of love and kindness and remember that with what measure I give it will be measured back in full.
Note the ladybug measuring cups were part of my daughter’s bachelorette party pottery painting. They were so cute I had to use them as part of my thought process writing!