Sometimes waking up in the morning requires a tremendous shift of effort. Woke this morning from an irritating and draining dream. Thank you Daddy that I can wake straight away into your presence!
Who is there like you? What other name has the power to save like yours? Names are powerful tools in life. Names are like code-words. We can nod our approval when a name is mentioned, or laugh dismissively. Some names seem to stand for empty philosophies and superficial living. Other names are worthy and represent entire traditions of lifestyle or of endeavour. Lady Gaga, Katie Price, Justin Bieber appear to fit in the former. Samuel Johnson, Thomas Aquinas, William and Catherine Booth, Heidi Baker in the latter.
As Eugene Peterson renders Paul’s words to the Philippians:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Am I going to ‘fill my face’ with the silly, reprehensible and often sinful behaviour of contemporary celebrities and my peers, or will I look at the best, not the worst? What is a shortcut to looking at the best, things to praise, things lovely and pure?
Jesus, your name. Jesus, your face. Your voice is the sweetest, richest, and kindest voice. Your eyes look at me truthfully and yet lovingly. No other name comes close to yours. No other hand can pick me up from any trough, off any precipice, out of any storm. No other person has taken the pain, shame and ignominy that ought to have been mine.
Every word of the gospels is charged with authentic power and life as we read of your holy and immaculate, real and divine life among us. We believe in your name; we are not born of blood or of the will of the flesh. We are born of God. We have all received of your fullness. We have not only received a one-off gift of grace from you, but we receive one blessing after another. Because we are one with you, we are your brothers and sisters and mothers. There is an incredible and global family that we are part of through your magnificent and unique death and resurrection. As you forgave Peter for his desertion and betrayal, so you forgive us and tell us ‘Feed my sheep’.
Live in me today. Do greater things in me today. Kindle a sacred flame on the mean altar of my heart this year, and fan it into flame through the gracious influence of your Holy Spirit moment by sacred moment, breath by sanctified breath.