The Hokie Pokie Ain't What it's All About

2:41 PMHeather

In case you are a newer bloggy friend and you've missed the back story, allow me to begin this new year by way of explanation.  I have sworn off resolutions.  Yep.  Done with them.  You see, I am a recovering perfectionist.  A list maker.  Task driven.  Performance driven.  Type A.  Leaning towards obsessive.  (Just a smidge!)  So, back in January 2009, I blogged here about a new approach to resolutions.  It was more of a prayer for the year. Or as the blog post says, my hopes for the new year. Sorta a revised approach to the taunting New Year's Resolution game of years past. 

Um, yeah.  How'd that work for me?  

Not too well. Because just a year after that post, I tried something else.  And guess what?  It stuck.  It's been my approach ever since when I find myself facing January 1st of the next year.  I simply choose a word for the year.  In January 2010, that word was embrace.  Akin to the countdowns crowding all forms of media around New Year's Eve, allow me to recap.  For 2011, my word was intentional.  2012 was all about grace. And 2013 led me through a journey of gratitude.

In case the idea of a word for the year is new to you, let me tell you how it works.  As the days race toward the end of the year, I begin reflecting on the previous months and consider what my word for the next year might be.  I pray and meditate and try to think about any recurring themes as of late.  Because, as I've said many times before, I'm like a toddler who must learn by repetition.  It's a truth about me that my Heavenly Father knows well and speaks to regularly.  I've found it's simply a matter of taking a minute to think about the themes and messages that keep repeating themselves and to discern what He's trying to teach me.  If I'd only turn off the television and put the iPhone and iPad and lap top down.

And so, with no further ado, I bring you my word for 2014...

...LOVE.

This last year, again repeating myself, has been a time of deconstruction spiritually.  It's been a season of clearing out the ways I've complicated my faith.  The ways I've build up rules and obligations and duties that the Lord never intended.  How I've put God in the box of how others have treated me and the ways others have related to me.  This misunderstanding of God has led to disbelief and suspicion.  It's created a barrier of insecurity that has greatly impacted my ability to have an intimate relationship with my Savior (as J.R. Vassar preached about back in October).

Oh, yes.  I must admit.  God has been priming the pump for the focus on LOVE in 2014 for most of last year, sorta tying it up with a bow through our sermon series on Galatians brought by our interim pastor.  Topped off with the grand finale last Sunday when J.R. challenged us to wade deeper and become gospel connoisseurs. Gospel connoisseurs.  Those who plunge deeply to the point of developing a refined and experienced palate for that which they've become an expert.  The gospel.

The good news.  Past the church doctrine and man's traditions and rules and regulations and obligations and duties, the simple truth of the good news is more than enough.  It stands on it's own.  It's the message God intended to change the course of history and the most stubborn sinful heart.  

God loves the world so much--so very much--that He sent His only Son to die for us so that no one would perish but ALL would have eternal life (John 3:16).  

Love.  It's what motivated the Father.  It's His heartbeat.  It's the reason Jesus came as a tiny baby.  It's the driving force in every single act of his ministry on earth.  It's why he was silent with his accusers.  It's why he endured the beating and the whips and the heavy cross upon his back. It's why He who knew NO SIN allowed himself to become every single sin of every single person in all of human history.  Thus being forsaken by His father.  So that we could become as if we'd never sinned and as if we'd always done was what was right and thus accepted for all of eternity.

Love.  Plain and simple.  A love that is so insanely beyond our comprehension that it should never cease to amaze and change us.  A love that takes the power of the Holy Spirit just to begin to grasp.

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

Jesus didn't spend his time on earth espousing his cause and what he was against, with a megaphone held to his mouth to those who opposed him.  Nope.  He spend every minute of his short 3 year ministry motivated by love, expressing love, and changing others with that love.  He didn't approach the Pharisees with a boycott.  He didn't hold up a protest sign against adulterers to the woman caught in adultery.  Instead, he was all about showing that he is for us.  He loves us.  And it's a revolutionary love that brings about the change.  Not a demand for change that results in love.  

Cart before the horse.  Because love comes first and foremost.  Not rules or duties or obligations.

And it's a love that pours and spills over within our hearts and should color our every word and interaction.  If we can only grasp that love.

Look, I realized this morning how silly I am.  As if I'd stumbled on some hard to grasp truth that the gospel is all about love.  Understanding His love and pouring it out to those around us.  Wow! Aren't I discerning and wise?  Love!  That's what David Platt and Katie Davis and Jen Hatmaker are talking about when they talk about reaching into the lives of the poor and needy.  As the church should be.  Love!  That's what God is really all about.  Getting His love so we can show it.  Am I not the most amazing Biblical scholar?

Yeah.  I'm not so smart.  I'm just dumb enough to water down the basic truths thinking they needed extra ingredients.  

Because Jesus stated it rather clearly during a conversation with "the expert on the law" when asked how to receive eternal life:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.  Luke 10:27

Don't you see?  I have fancied myself an expert on the LAW.  The kind of arrogance that comes with years in the church and that brings about a boredom in your Christian faith.  The law.

Because God's answer for eternal life?  See His love.  Accept His love.  Love Him back.  With all you are.  And then allow yourself to be changed by it to the point of loving your neighbor as yourself.

And lest we get caught up in loving the person next door to you in your pretty little suburban neighborhood, Jesus made sure to clarify who our neighbor actually is.  This is where He told the story of the good Samaritan.  You see, he said that our neighbor is anyone we meet along the road.  No matter how busy we are.  No matter how filthy and unlikeable and difficult they are to love.  No matter how great the need.  Loving our neighbor is tending to the needs around us. 

Yes indeed.  The hokie pokie is not what it's all about after all.  It's all about love.  Free of complex theological debate.  Free of the chain of obligation.  Free of complications brought through years of overthinking.  

Love.  Swimming out into the depths of His love. Diving into His word, mindful of the analogy of St. Gregory in the sixth century.

"It [the Word of God] is, as it were, a kind of river, if I may so liken it, which is both shallow and deep, wherein both the lamb may find a footing, and the elephant float at large."

Oh yes.  This year, 2014, I intend to wade into the shallows of His love and His Word.  And keep going into the depths where an elephant can float.

Lest there be any confusion or uncertainty about my word for this year, I came across THIS on Pinterest, just moments after praying about my word for 2014.


It's okay, bloggy friends.  Go ahead at laugh at me with me.  Yes.  God knows how stubborn I can be.  When it comes to my word for 2014, He made sure that I saw the handwriting on the wall. The Pinterest wall, that is.

Love.  It's what makes the world go round.  What an incredible year ahead.  I'm excited to live it out.  

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