December 22, 2008

Verse for the Year

As I was reading up on Helen Roseveare, studying for the missions message from two Sundays back, I took the time to listen to an address she gave, back in 2007, on “The Perseverance of the Saints.” Among the many delightful and helpful things she said (you really should listen to it), I was inspired by her habit, each year, of selecting a ‘verse for the year.’

“Every year,” she said, “between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I seek to have time alone with God and ask Him for a particular verse for the coming year.” She went on to describe the blessing of being able to meditate and re-meditate and then, after that, to meditate even a little more … for 365 days on a single verse. And I thought: ‘This lady seems to love Jesus more than me. She has certainly walked with Him a lot longer than me, and through a lot deeper valleys. So I’ll try this out … a verse for the year.’

This is not to say that I am not going to be embarking, once again, on a Bible reading plan for the year. Daily bread is an absolute necessity! Nor am I insinuating that a ‘verse for the year’ is the key to Christian growth. Despite the fact that Christians are always looking for them – and book publishers constantly marketing them – there is no key to spiritual growth … except for seeking and finding Jesus in His word.

So Helen Roseveare’s ‘verse of the year’ is no talisman; it is no magic formula for spiritual maturity. But it is one way, that I have yet to employ, of finding and feeding on Jesus in His word.

‘So then,’ you ask, ‘what’s your verse? What’s it going to be?’ Well … it’s not January 1st yet. So I don’t know! But I am thinking, so far, along the lines of Matthew 11.29, in which Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

I want to be more in love – really in love – with Jesus in the new year (and even before then!). And I want, too, to be more like Jesus. Particularly, I want to be transformed into His likeness by way of gentleness. “Learn from Me, for I am gentle” Jesus says. And I need to learn that. It can’t be learned by rolling up my sleeves, putting my nose to the grindstone, and trying harder at being gentle. In fact, those times when I find myself rolling up my spiritual sleeves are often the times when I am least apt to be gentle and humble! So I won’t learn gentleness in my own strength. But I can learn it by looking unto Jesus. By loving Him in and through a verse like Matthew 11.29.

So, whether I finally select this as my ‘verse for the year’ or not, maybe at least two things will come out of these few lines. First, you will be spurred (I hope) to pray for your pastor in the area of gentleness. And second, I think you might be spurred to follow Helen Roseveare’s example and select for yourself a ‘verse of the year.’ Any idea of what yours might need to be?

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