There’s a persistent voice, a critical voice, that sometimes takes up residence inside my head.
It shows itself most often when I’m trying to write.
Count your blessings? You aren’t in control? Parenting reveals your selfishness? Really, Jenn, is that the best you can do? All a bit … obvious … isn’t it?
Yep, that’s me. Captain Obvious.
At the beginning of one of his sermons during the Advent season, Pastor Gabe made a confession. When he was new to the ministry, he told us, he’d put a lot of pressure on himself to preach something fresh, to bring out something new, to tell the Christmas story in a way it hadn’t been told in the last two thousand years.
“As you can imagine,” he said, “it didn’t go very well.”
He went on to share a message similar to one he’d given a year before, one about the shepherds and their experience with the Christ-child. Even though the main points were ones I’d already heard, his conclusion challenged me to engage with this true story in ways that have real implications in my everyday life.
He pointed out that, after their miraculous, awe-inspiring encounter with the divine, the shepherds would have had to wait thirty years before Jesus began His public ministry. Thirty years.
He said he didn’t know what the shepherds did in those intervening decades, but he hoped they formed a “shepherd’s small group,” that they gathered together on a regular basis to share and to remember. He said he imagined them telling and retelling the story. “Remember the angels? Remember the baby?” He said they would have needed each other, needed to continue to say the things they knew to be true aloud, over and over again, in order to keep their hope alive.
I heard once, somewhere (I don’t remember where), that as Christians, our job is to preach the gospel, and that, so often, we need to start with ourselves.
It stuck with me, probably because it’s true.
No matter how often I have heard that I am a divine image bearer, created to partner with God to bring about good things in His world; that I am corrupted by sin but that I am lavishly loved; that in living, dying, and rising again Jesus both showed us what abundant life looks like and offered it to us forever – no matter how often I have heard these things, I still need to hear them again.
Every day. Every hour. Sometimes – often – every minute.
And so, when that niggling voice whispers, when I worry that I am saying the same thing that’s been said a million times before, I will remind myself that I need to hear it. Again and again and again.
And I will continue to write, in the hopes that it’s good for you to be reminded, too.