Daily Devotion - Friday, January 15, 2016


For the next several weeks our daily devotions will be focused on the fresh start that a new year brings, and how we have the opportunity to write a new story in a new year.  We're going to be thinking about how the decisions we make today, determine the story we tell tomorrow.  This week we're going to be thinking  about what we need to do to start something this year that will help determine a better story. 

Yesterday I felt my weaknesses a whole lot more than I felt my strengths.  I won't go into details, but let's just say that I wasn't at my very best.  This happens more often than I'd like to admit.  I know that I'm not defined by my mistakes and missteps, and that God loves me in spite of my brokenness but it's the broken moments that I tend to focus on the most, I suppose.  

I know what you're thinking.  Pastors are professional Christians, and therefore ought to have it altogether when it comes to spiritual practices, faithful living, integrity and the like.  But what you also probably know is that pastors are just as human, frail and prone to wandering as anyone else.  And we're just as tempted to beat ourselves up and wallow in self-pity as anyone else, too.  

I worked at Walt Disney World for nearly ten years, most of that time in Attractions and Guest Relations.  One of the things I used to teach new hires was that they would have thousands of guest encounters per day that would be positive, happy and wonderful, and about two to three that were awful.  "You'll be tempted," I used to tell them, "to define your whole day by those two to three bad moments, and your job is to not let that happen."  

Easier said than done, right?  The guests that would always stand out in my mind after a long day of painting a Disney-smile on my face were the nasty ones.  What is it about human beings that we are so overly-critical of our low moments?  Why do we only see the frayed edges of our own character, dwell on our mistakes, define ourselves by what we are not?  

Today I was reading some poetry by the great Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran, and this was the verse that stood out for me:  "To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.  To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy."  

It's all to easy at the onset of a new year to focus on your weaknesses and in turn then dismiss your ability to start something new, to turn over a new leaf, to begin again the work of reshaping, remaking your life.  

The Apostle Paul wrote about the strength of God being made plain in our weakness more than once in his letters to the early Church.  What he knew was that for those of us who have embraced Jesus as our example, our shepherd and our redeemer, all things have been made new.  

"Therefore," he wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:17, "if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come."  He wrote in his letter to the Colossians that, "[God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins."  

May you be filled with unbelievable hope on this day and every day in this new year as you realize that, like a chain, you are not as weak as your weakest link--you are as strong as your strongest link. And may you see more clearly than ever that your strongest link is Jesus himself, the One who came to seek and to save you in your brokenness, the One who gives you strength to become the favored child of God you were always meant to be.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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