Happy 2014! As I mentioned before, I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions. However, over the last several years, I have chosen a verse as “my life verse” for the year.
Or rather, it has chosen me.
I never know the verse on January 1. The Holy Spirit reveals it to me over the first weeks of January. I have a few ideas of what my verse might be this year, but nothing has been confirmed yet. The last three years my verses have been:
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33 (NRSV)
Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. – 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NRSV)
And last year:
In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. – Romans 12:5 (CEB)
At the very least, I memorize a verse of Scripture. But what I find is that I travel through the year with a partner. I don’t meditate on the verse every day or at specific times during the year. Rather the Holy Spirit brings it to mind at different times and in different circumstances throughout the year. This verse often becomes my breath prayer.
When I’m in a situation wondering what I’m supposed to do or how I should respond, this is the verse I go to. It’s amazing how quickly things are put into perspective when your guidance is strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Sometimes this makes the decision clear – or makes me realize that it’s not as big of a deal as what I was making it out to be.
When I’m upset with someone by the insensitive way they’ve trampled all over my personal rights, I find myself getting angry. (I’m saying this tongue in cheek, because of course I think they premeditated their actions to the hidden thing that I get most upset about.) Or there are the times when I’m tempted to put myself in a better light, usually by putting someone else in a negative light. As I try to rationalize why this is OK, do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other puts me back on the right track.
When your church has split (or your marriage, or your family) and hurt and anger seem to take center stage, I thank God for reminding me that we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to one another. This verse has brought transitions in churches and relationships into holy space. It has also made the sacrament of baptism so much more significant and sacred for me.
God is so good – always providing what we need in the moment we need it. Each verse has been just the right one for what the year held for me. The verse’s meaning and impact deepens and expands as the year goes on and it becomes a connecting thread through a year’s worth of labyrinth-walking. And like old friends, I let these verses continue to be a part of my life in the subsequent years. They become mentors as well as friends and travelling partners.
Where to start? Romans 12 or the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) offer many wonderful choices. Or it may be a verse that has always been meaningful to you – or even one that has always challenged or mystified you. Whether you choose the verse or the verse chooses you, I think it will work out just fine. Allowing God’s Word to be part of your life, to help you interpret your circumstances, and to guide your choices pleases God.
I hope your new labyrinth that will be 2014 will include a wonderful new travelling partner. God bless.