“Love each other deeply with all your heart. … May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. … Because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises.” (1 Peter 1:22, 2 Peter 1:2, 4)
I started geeking out the other day in the back-to-school section of Target, where I wandered as I was waiting for some prescriptions to be filled. New notebooks! Paints and brushes! A blank flip book with bright note cards! Fine-point Sharpies in fun colors! I walked through the section with a ridiculously huge smile on my face, putting things in my shopping cart (for myself, mind you), as memories of my own school experience came flooding back. The first day of school was always one of my very favorite days of the year, with new teachers, new school clothes, new knowledge, new experiences with old and new friends. The year was (and is) full of promise.
I love the fact that we can rely on God’s promises, that he is faithful and just. That he is always with us and loves us completely, no matter what. That he loves those we love and pray for. That he is love. He has good things in store for us as we live out this life in his already-and-not-yet kingdom. He also promises to meet us as we pour out our lives to the poor and marginalized, and in our interactions with others in his name. He promises many more things – check it out for yourselves. How are we living out our lives as we lean into God’s promises of his love and his presence in our lives? How are we going to respond to God’s promises?
One of my favorite Bible passages is in 2 Peter, where it says God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises…” (2 Peter 2:3-4 NIV) We are to “make every effort to respond to God’s promises.” (2 Peter 2:5 NLT) Peter says we are to add to our “faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 2:5-8, NIV) We can grow, we can learn, we can show love, in so many ways. The Message puts the same list a little differently: We are to complement our “basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others.” I long to grow into each one of these qualities, and know that the Spirit within me can help me grow. And I long for this for the Church.
Each season of our lives (whether the time of year or not) has a crossroads. Each has choices. Each usually has the least good way, a good way, and perhaps the best way. Which way will you choose? I always think about Moses saying to the nation of Israel as they were at a crossroads, about to go into the Promised Land: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell” in the land with him. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Many other crossroads and choices are depicted in the Bible.
Here’s to the new school year for everyone – whether you are in school or not, whether you have kids or not, whether you have kids living with you or not – that it is a fall, winter and spring of promise. And may you be living lives full of deep love, for God and for each other, as we grow into and live out God’s promises to the world.
Kelly can be reached via email.