Making a decision to change course can seem sudden and dramatic. However, in my experience, genuine change is always preceded by a thoughtful, incremental and slow process.
Our nation will pause to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend. Certainly in our American journey toward equality under the law for all races and both sexes, progress has been steady, but painstakingly slow. Case in point:
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the US Constitution designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. The amendment was introduced in Congress for the first time in 1921 and has prompted conversations about the meaning of legal equality for women and men ever since.*
Currently, 35 states have ratified the ERA. 38 states are necessary to effect a Constitutional amendment. It’s been nearly 100 years! Substantive change takes time.
On a more personal level, the turn of the calendar from 2018 to 2019 inspires a longing for individual change. As a middle-aged man, it is my personal testimony that changes in my behavior and character have come about through long and painful processes. I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been fascinated by the recent “word of the year” trend in which people choose a particular word to grow and lean into for the next year. So a couple of weeks ago, I started praying for a specific “word’ to latch onto that might thematically guide God’s agenda for me in 2019. I confess that I wasn’t optimistic that a single word would be comprehensive enough to inspire me. But, I prayed, and lo and behold, the Holy Spirit gave me a word! Surprise, surprise—it wasn’t even in English. “La Lengua” is the word that came forth, the Spanish word for tongue (literal and figurative) and language.
Words matter. And I’ve had a growing sense that God is inviting me to expand my love for the Scriptures and my compassion for others through a reinvestment in language. In response, I subscribed to websites called “Daily Dose of Hebrew” and “Daily Dose of Greek” that share a single verse of the Bible analyzed in the original languages. I love it! This practice makes me eager to get out bed and hear what the Word has to say. On the Spanish front, I’ve started memorizing some favorite parts of Scripture in Spanish. I’m amazed how certain portions gain new life and energy when colored by a different tongue: Psalm 23:1 El Señor es mi pastor, nada me falta. “Nada me falta” speaks to me in a deeper way than the familiar “Nothing shall I want.” If you are a Spanish speaker, please drop some knowledge on me when we are face to face. I need some practice!
Language is acquired in a slow, thoughtful, incremental way. Even more importantly, our discipleship journey follows a parallel track. Even more essential than my daily language practice is this daily prayer: “God, what do want me to do--or not do--today?” This simple prayer, or daily dose of discipleship, is the single most important moment of the day for me, because God loves to answer this prayer!. What are the daily doses that are determining your destiny for 2019 and beyond?! May God give you grace through your daily practice.
* Quoted from the Wikipedia page on the ERA