As 2020 ended and 2021 began i found myself doing all the usual things one does at that point. I reflected. I reflected on what was a wild year! It was crazy! It was unprecedented! In fact it was many things and probably too many to list. But as i sat there pondering and thinking about the current time and place i find myself in i realised that more than anything this was still the same journey i had been on. It’s my journey and it’s my story.
With that in my mind i know that nothing has ended and nothing new has begun. It’s simply time for the next chapter. It’s time to zero in on what i know and what i have learned and to keep pushing forward. It’s time to be ready for what happens next, whatever that may be.
I feel like a lot of what i took out of 2020 would be so different to many people. I didn’t have the health issues or job issues. Didn’t have the financial concerns either. I didn’t have the fear and isolation that so many spoke of. I was lucky. I feel blessed. 2020 was a damn brutal year the world over! That makes it a strange feeling to have. But it is real and i thank God So much for his provision!
I also feel stronger, i feel wiser. I feel at peace with life and with myself. Again with fear and uncertainty in our world that feels like the most contradictory of places to be in right now. But i do feel it and again i know that God has looked after me to this point today.
So as i sit here now, in early January I started pondering what to write next. I really wasn’t sure of where to start? I decided to rest on the idea and just wait for something. Anything! When the year is new i think there is always a tendency to start afresh. I knew deep down that was probably unlikely. That God at some point would get me moving again. One night as i sat there mulling over things with WordPress open, it came to me! I felt this gentle feeling, like a presence upon me and it said;
“We live in a place called Love”
I don’t know why it came in to my head? I’ve heard the phrase many times before. It’s a statement which can be worded differently but the idea behind it is always the same. When all is said and done, it is so important to our own lives to start from a place of love. As i thought about the statement i immediately thought about my interpretation of it. Where in my life was that true? Where was this place? Was it even simply a place? Or was it also an ideology? A place to start from and live by?
The answer? It was all those things!
So how do i answer my own question to “We live in a place called Love”?
So it is a place. It’s an ideology. It’s feeling a way of thinking. A mindset. But it starts with me. For me to be in that place i need to first exercise it. I need to start my day with it in mind. I need to action it in to existence.
It looks like many things in my day or your day. Yes. It’s a way of thinking that any one of us can learn to live by. It can be as easy as listening to someone, giving them your time. It can be showing compassion to a person you come across in your day. It can be choosing to bite your tongue from venting at someone. What ever it is, the decision is yours. How you react is your choice. That’s right! It starts with you. We are built to love, so, we can choose to love if we want to.
Now remember that phrase.
We are built to love.
A week or so later and the idea of living in a place of love came up once again. This time with my church. I’ve mentioned before but with the Pandemic in full swing our church took to Zoom. We’re now at close to 11 months, by the time i finish writing this it will be closer to 12 months in to that and it’s just been the most incredible and unexpected thing!
Here we were kind of unsure what to make of church in the early part of 2020. Would it work? Would we get sick of it after a while? None of us really knew. We Kind of just “rolled with it”. We went with the flow of things each Sunday. Not so much a structured event. There were no rehearsals. It was simply a matter of making ourselves present. Starting with that mindset of being in the right place.
What we got was, well? Where do I start?!?!
Our Church is a smallish church here in Sydney’s inner west suburbs. It always has been kind of small. There’s nothing “Mega Church” about it. These days 40-60 people would attend most weeks but we have a group of around 100 maybe that can attend at any one time and when the Pandemic hit I reckon 20 of them, maybe more, became MIA – missing in action.
Our church has always had a great heart. Full of all the kinds of people you love to have within your church. Servant like in the way we people got things done every week. Always without seeking reward and always seeking to give God the glory. Never done in a way that pumps our chest but seeks to get what needs to be done for God’s kingdom.
But it’s fascinating to think back to the first 3 months of 2020. I remember sitting in church socially distanced and it was all just a bit awkward. In a way, there was a barrier that just made interaction a little awkward.
By the time church moved on to zoom via “Church on the Couch”, what we didn’t know then but definitely know right now was that God was shifting our church in to a new realm. He was literally shifting us! He used this forced hiatus from “normal church” and plonked us in front of our screens from the safety and comfort of our homes.
There in the place we feel most safe and comfortable God decided to do something equally incredible. Without so much of a detailed plan church would proceed via zoom and what we got was an experience that was just so different. It was irrepressible, undeniable. It was was GOD.
I don’t think anyone could have seen what was to become of our Church family. While we have lost contact with some who we look forward to welcoming back one day, we have gained many who are so precious to us now. The kingdom of God is alive and well.
What we’ve seen on this journey over the past twelve months has been the building of a community that chooses to live in that place of love.
We are now living in a place of love!
What we see each week in our community, and it extends to being a daily habit of ours, is that alignment of one’s mindset. It is the ability of any one person to start with a heart that loves. That same ability then starts from a mindset that chooses to love. It speaks love in to others. It actions love in the same way you would gift something to someone. Before you know it, love reverberates around your world and you begin to see what it actually does in the bigger picture.
Love is a big word. It’s a word that encompasses so many different looks. I’ve said it before, it’s an overused word. To the point it’s used in a context with little meaning to it. But actioning love is never insignificant. Never! My church family know its value, especially in the actioning of it.
We see its value because He, God, first loved us. When we love, we are in his light. We carry his light. We shine his light. We bring and give and gift his light to where it is needed. It is my starting place each day. To start from a place of love, his love. It is mine, it is yours. It is ours to take hold of.
I wanted to finish with two bible verses.
1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other. Let us show the truth by our actions.”
Hebrews 10:24 – ” Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works”.
In both verses the actions or acts of love are crucial. Without them we cannot love properly. We need to physically action ourselves to do so. Its never enough to simply say it. We need to show it. Living in that place of love is rewarding. Sometimes it’s also challenging, tough even. But there is much beauty found there when you clear your path. There is much beauty there when you align your mindset to start from that place. Start simple and go from there. Actions are a simple thing.
One final thing. Living in a place of love sounds a lot like what i imagine heaven to be. A place where love so tangibly reverberates around us. What i am discovering right now is that fragments of heaven are dropping in to our lives like never before. Almost like this was part of the plan to begin with. Like this moment and this time was a place in time we were destined to be part of all along. God’s plan for us is our mystery. We see the direction we’re moving in but are never too sure of what is coming next. It’s part of the fun. For now though my eyes remain fixed on him and living in that place of love is where i know i am meant to be.