I love new beginnings. It’s a new year, full of freshness, hope and possibilities. Ahead lies a myriad of untold victories, personal growth, messy challenges and golden opportunities. Rather than resolutions, I like to start the new year with purposeful dreaming. Dreaming of more than enough, wild adventures, a Love so strong it leaves a miracle in it’s wake wherever it goes, Health so vibrant it defies natural tendencies to age and deteriorate, a Hope that overcomes any lingering hopelessness, a Peace that allows us to face whatever trials and tribulations that may come our way, and an open heart to hear the lovely leading of the Holy Spirit (Someone who has no condemnation or fear to offer, only pure and gracious love). I’ve decided my phrase for this new year is “Begin with Love.”
love from God
So many of us want to hear that beautiful voice of the Holy Spirit. It is what gives us ingenious ideas, boundless creativity, relationship tips, parenting hacks, words to say when nothing comes to mind. When we turn our hearts, our minds, our lives towards Jesus as a friend, a guide, and a life-giving Savior, we now have access to a “beyond-the-natural” life. We have access to the extraordinary. But many of us believe we have been forgotten, even if only in certain areas of our lives in which we feel stuck. In response, we’ve been told to read and memorize scripture, belong to a church, have an accountability group, sow money so we can reap abundance, pray daily, provide services to the needy. All of these can be wonderful and life-giving activities, but rarely if engaged at the natural level (out of fear, condemnation, ambition or a sense of duty).
Honestly, at a natural level, these activities are mere plastic fruits, offering little but a good feeling yet no power to transform or overcome the real hardships and trials we face in life on planet earth. In fact, these activities were meant to lead us to the REAL, that is to help us begin to recognize on our own, the One who knows us better than anyone else and who can communicate to us in ways that only we will understand. So that we can receive His unlimited, unconditional love for us.
this love is soft and gentle, yet remarkably strong
If we wish to hear from the Holy Spirit regarding a particular challenge or decision, we first begin with love. It’s soft and gentle, yet remarkably strong, It’s humble and kind and respectful. It doesn’t boast or try to be better than someone else. It doesn’t return a slap in the face with a slap in the face. It doesn’t need to. It is bigger and stronger and full of grace. Every Believer has access to this love.
If we want to know what to say to our neighbor who believes differently than we do, begin with love.
If we want to correct our child, student or employee, begin with love.
If we want to provide for our family, begin with love.
If we want to lose weight or overcome a sickness, begin with love.
love for ourselves
Love for ourselves just as we are in this moment. We need only be willing to see ourselves just as our Creator and Father sees us. Beautiful, precious, unique. You may be suffering from consequences of poor choices you made or someone else made for you, but you (JUST AS YOU ARE IN THIS MOMENT) are incredibly valuable, loved, precious and perfect in His sight. He sees the real you. He knows you will grow but that eternal life that is in you is producing just what you need. It’s why He says that you have everything you need in Christ Jesus. You are perfect in Him.
love for others
Love for others will grow naturally out of that awareness of His perfect love. You will notice how others are hurt and thus say and do things that are hurtful. But you won’t be drawn into their drama. You will quietly ask the Holy Spirit if and what you can say to heal, bring understanding, hope and grace into the situation. Just as He has done with you over the course of your relationship. He never gave up on you. He never expected you to be further along than you were. He knew the intricacies of your personality, your life circumstances, the hurts, the joys, the passions and failures. He knows and cares about it all. When you really see that, you begin to overwhelmingly want to give the same to others.
from the inside out
It all starts on the inside. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” What you choose to believe can determine your outside reality. The Kingdom of Heaven is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. That means those things reside in you. But if you don’t believe it, the mustard seed never grows into a full size tree. Or if your natural eyes don’t see the results you are expecting, do you go with the natural, or do you go with what Jesus has said to you personally? The natural world must bend to the spiritual. That doesn’t mean we get to have control. It merely means Jesus has offered us a fresh way to live our lives and to hear and walk in the Holy Spirit. One thing is certain: He began with love, so let us begin with love.
The starting place with the Holy Spirit in giving direction is always love. That love is kind and respectful. It is filled with peace and faith. You can have a disagreement with someone and still have peace. You can face a very troubling challenge and still experience patience. You can discuss a difficult subject with someone who completely misunderstands you and still have humility. How is this possible, you ask? This is who the Holy Spirit is. And the Holy Spirit is living in you. You have access to this extraordinary ability. Stop and listen. Stop and consider. Stop and ask. Then start from a place of that very love that’s been given to you.
begin with love
So, in light of new beginnings, not only of the new year but of each new day… in all that we do, let us resemble the One who loves us so. And let us begin our discussions, our activities, our Facebook posts, our relationships…with beautiful, eternal, life-transforming LOVE. We were made for this!