When people ask me how I could leave the land of chips and queso for the land of pretzels and beer cheese, I simply tell them that I was unable to decline being offered my Barbie-Dream-Job, even though it was located in Cincinnati. And while I can still occasionally hear the wailing and gnashing teeth of the five generations of Texans that preceded me, answering Jesus’ call to this place has been one of the deepest joys of my life.
I knew that taking a job outside of parish lay ministry—where I’d spent almost my entire professional life—was going to be an adjustment. There would be a steep learning curve, and I would make some mistakes that everyone would see and notice as mistakes. What I didn’t count on—what surprised and delighted me to my core, what made me know in the deepest part of myself that I had made the right choice—was how much more I fell in love with Jesus while just doing my job.
At the heart of the Christian experience is an understanding that making our lives look like Jesus’ life will require some serious individual work and intention. We also know that we are just a part of of Jesus’ body here on earth, and we have to learn how to work well with the other bits and pieces. Making our lives look like Jesus’ life is the hardest, most rewarding, and right thing we can do. Reading the Bible, saying our prayers, praying for and serving others are ways we attempt to do this best, right thing.
For a long time, I imagined that saying my prayers two or three times a day, reading through one of the Gospels during Lent, mostly paying attention to the lessons on Sundays, taking communion, and not swearing out loud at people who are incapable of driving like evolved human beings was putting me pretty square with the Lord. And then I came to Forward Movement. Mostly, my job focuses on Forward Day by Day—our flagship resource. Consequently, I read almost all of the lessons for each day as I’m doing my editing job. I can’t help an author be clear about a text if I’m not familiar with the context myself, so reading what the Daily Office or the Revised Common Lectionary have to offer is essential.
Reading the Bible every day, looking at the ties between the Old and New Testaments, seeing the beauty of the Psalms cycle back and around every month, letting my heart marinate in the sweetness of the Word, allowing myself to ask deep questions and be relentless and fearless in ferreting out the answers (or just making peace with the questions) has radically and irrevocably changed my life. That’s right—the thing everyone has been telling you your whole life about God is true—just read the Bible every day, and amazing things will happen. I was as surprised by that simple and not-new revelation as I was when I found out that lunch meetings were neither glamorous nor productive. Reading the Bible—and taking it seriously—has given me such joy, totally complicated my life, and demanded more of my time and energy than I would have imagined. But I also hunger for that word now. When things go sideways, I do not hesitate look up key words I’m feeling to see where they are repeated by the prophets, in the stories of Jesus, in the Psalms, and God shows me grace, shows me ways see the Kingdom that is already here and still being prepared.
Let’s be honest—Jesus will love you just the same as he does right this very minute even if you don’t start reading your Bible every day or develop a daily devotional habit or find ways to augment the habits you may already have. But…and we all love a big but…Can you imagine falling even more in love with Jesus—more in love with your neighbors, more in love with the world God has made and called good, less worried about other people and their weirdnesses, less concerned about what you don’t have and more concerned with how you can share what you do have? Are you willing to take that big risk?
If you are, I promise I’ll sit right here with you. I’m taking this risk of spending time with Jesus, of falling in love with his crazy friends, of being convinced that God is making all things new—even me, too. At Forward Movement, this is how we participate in the Jesus Movement—so you’ve got company. Join us, either with friends or on your own, at 10 a.m. each morning to savor a sweet time with the Word and with each other. We’re here to inspire disciples, empower evangelists, and love the world for Jesus’ sake, and we’re glad you’re here with us, too.
Rachel Jones is Associate Editor at Forward Movement. You can connect with the Forward Day by Day community on Facebook, Twitter, or our prayer site forum; share your Moving Forward experiences with the hashtag #ForwardDaybyDay; and listen to the Forward Day by Day podcast on the go.