May the blessings of divine grace and the peace, the shalom, the still and generous presence that is bestowed on us from God our Father fill your new year!
What’s on my heart this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord…is the way God has been reminding us all along that we are part of a bigger story…God’s big story…the story of His HEART. When Jesus came up out of the River Jordan after being baptized, the Father’s voice was heard saying, “This is my Beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Everyone else there that day saw their life bordered by birth and death, their need for repentance, their situation whatever it was. That moment reminded us all that we play out our lives within the larger umbrella of God’s fathering us, of his saving us, of his transforming the world as we know it into a new creation.
As year after year passes, we become more familiar with our own hearts, and with God’s great HEART. We begin to see how we live out our lives within the overarching story of God’s confident presence, plan, and dominion. We are brought along in the unfolding of his determined plan to save his creation, all of it. We travel “hid with Christ in God” on the highway that stretches from Genesis through Revelation.
I’ve been realizing lately how gentle this journey is.
How gently Jesus began his own public life by quietly standing among the penitents who lined the River Jordan waiting for baptism by the hand of John, the wild prophet of the desert. How Jesus began there in anonymity the three-year teaching, healing, holding, saving mission that would culminate in his death, resurrection and ascension…. That would culminate, actually, in the baptisms in baptismal fonts of every church in every century to the end of time…. That would culminate, ultimately, when he presents us all to his Father as his brothers and sisters, the lost sheep he would not return home without finding and rescuing and returning to him.
How gently began our own life. My own journey, though, and perhaps yours, has taken not-so-gentle detours. Hardened areas of my heart and rigid thought patterns have shadowed over the gentleness of who I most deeply am as child of a generous Father and a Good Shepherd. But in these later years, I see the rigidity for what it is. The selfishness for what it is. The cocky certainty. The anger. The resentment. It really isn’t worth it. It’s time to let it all go. It is time for love.
I think this is one of the reasons why we are given this Feast of Jesus’ Baptism every year. So we don’t forget the gentleness of the Shepherd who even now is searching for us. The voice of a generous Abba who says, “You are my Beloved. In you I am well pleased.”
I don’t know about you, but I usually am not “well pleased” with myself. I always have bigger and better ideas of who I should be by this time. My heart is never enough for me. God reminds us on this feast, however, that our heart is enough for him. That HE is the one who declared us “Beloved,” even if we do not love ourselves. We can be gentle with ourselves, no matter where we’ve been or how we’ve failed. It is really not all up to us. The story has been written already by God. Our responsibility, in the words of St Elizabeth of the Trinity, is to “let ourselves be loved.”
We are all unfinished women and men, or rather beloved unfinished women and men. This year let’s be gentle with ourselves so we can experience this love that saves, heals, and holds.
Be gentle with ourselves by slowing down so that our mind, body, and soul are in sync.
Be gentle with ourselves as we slow down so we can sense what God is bringing about.
Where he is leading.
How he is transforming.
What he is re-creating.
Capturing the faintest impression of his desire for us so that we can follow behind our gently compassionate and firmly purposeful Father who is determined in his Son that we would abide forever in his embrace.
You might also like to read: How Baptism expresses how close God is to us
ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…
God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:
- Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
- Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
- Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace. Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
- Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
- Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.