It makes sense then, that as I have been thinking about the content of this post, a passage from the Messiah has been floating around in my head:
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
For me, bringing good news and glad tidings have been increasingly wrapped up with another verse over the past few years:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does The Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
My grown-up theology has come from The Message trust and Eden projects in Manchester, from 24-7 Prayer and Shane Claiborne. People who have given up everything to live in community with the broken. That verse from Micah, that is the trendy mandate in those circles.
Bringing good news has meant doing justice and loving kindness. In turn, doing justice and loving kindness has meant going out onto the streets and meeting those whom Jesus came to save; visiting them in their homes; building relationships with families; giving children and young people an opportunity to encounter God and develop a relationship with him for themselves. You should go and explore the work that Kidz Klub and Space do: they have had a massive impact in my city and continue to bring the love of Jesus to many difficult situations.
This year has been tough. That version of bringing good news doesn't pay the bills so add in a full time job, a new marriage and a small social life, and you get one exhausted Becca. After much soul-searching I have taken the decision to step back from Kidz Klub for a while. It's for the sake of my own health, and to enable me to do the things that remain, well. In the crafting world I'm happy to be 'Jack of all trades, master of none' but where I have responsibility for people's lives I don't think that's acceptable.
This summer has been long and beautiful. I've rediscovered my creative side, bought a basket for my bike, had coffee with friends, done babysitting. It's been lovely. I've joined an orchestra. And I've felt terribly middle-class. Baskets and crochet and summer play-days: they aren't the kind of thing I encounter on the estates. The questions have kept me up at night: What if that means my feet aren't beautiful any more? If I'm not living immersed in a council estate, can I really be following God?
Of course I can. I can do justice with my whole life. I can love kindness in everything I do. And I must walk humbly with my God, constantly handing my life over to him and following His agenda; not mine or anyone else's.
Sarah over at SheLoves wrote this month about how she and her sisters are learning to treat 'Lazy' as a four-letter word. That article spoke straight into my soul, as I learn to rest in God and seek him above all else. One more scripture:
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
This verse is not an answer. It doesn't tell us to rest; nor does it tell us to do. It tells us to know God, and follow his lead. It is not easy, and there are no one-size-fits-all answers. Here I was facing up to it a couple of weeks ago:
So today I bring you good news: Jesus loves you, and he went to the ends of the earth to save your Spirit and restore friendship between you and God. He has a good and perfect plan for your life, and that does NOT include burning out.
(PS I still totally love The Message and 24-7 and Shane Claiborne. I have nothing against them, and take full responsibility for my own interpretation of their writing and teachings)
I'm linking up this post with the SheLoves community who are sharing posts on the theme of 'Beautiful' this month. Click here for other takes on the subject