Light floods the pane, and if I didn’t know better, I might think it was July.
But I know it’s January, not just because I’m bundled under a down comforter with heart-printed knee socks. I know it’s January, but not because snow as fine and shimmery as glitter lazes down from a cloudless sky like a misplaced promise.
I know it’s January because everywhere I turn, folks are talking about change. We’re desperate for a fresh start and new mercies.
In Indiana, all the world is white and we want some of it for ourselves. We want that light inside us — a newborn purity to cover all our grime and coat our bare limbs.
The trouble is, I don’t know if an earlier bedtime or consuming mass quantities of kale is the answer. I’m not even sure “spending more time with family” or stubbornly resisting the pull of stress will wash us clean.
In this kingdom, nothing works the way I think it should. Life feels upside-down, and logic has a decided to lean to the left.
Ten days into my best intentions, I toss half the night when I should be sleeping. I quit my exercise class because something has to give, and relationships trump toned thighs. The kale wilts while I devour a double-order of biscuits and gravy with my neighbors while all the world is white and the ground winks up in the sunlight.
God promises our plans are folly in the light of His. He’s gentle sometimes, but it’s January, and He’ll bring the fire if He has to. He’ll burn the sky, drain the oceans, and knock us to our knees if that’s what it takes for us to hear Him over the drone of green smoothie recipes and enticing sales on cross-trainers. None of that can ever make us new.
It’s January, and the best news I know is Jesus, and the way He insists on fussing around with us, His unlikely business partners.
He could do His thing while we do ours. He could do whatever He pleases.
Shockingly, what pleases Him is to bring us off the bench and into the game, though we’re sure to fumble and act like fools.
Surveying the sum of creation, God looks at you and me and decides we’re worthy allies. Each day brings a question: “How much bread do you have?” And if we dare to hand it over, it’s multiplied.
There are five precious people in my immediate life who are trying to quit smoking, because it’s January and this is their version of bat-wing arms and cluttered closets. I stock-pile chewing gum and pray for supernatural strength, but there’s a good chance they’ll fail, and I know this because I keep failing at much easier things.
Tuesday morning I woke well before my alarm to a strange scratching outside our bedroom window. Peeking behind the blind I saw him in his hole-soled Wal-Mart shoes, shoveling our driveway clean.
This was the bread he had, and he handed it over. The moment made me cry, and it didn’t matter at all when I saw him later and smelled the traces of his habit, the one he wants to escape, but can’t.
I thought of you and me and all the ways we already walk in his shoes. I prayed for us, that God keeps helping us kick our dirt to the curb. More than that, I thanked him for never refusing our bread, even when it’s days-old and the tired, heel-end.
We make our plans, but God orders our days in the weirdest ways. If we follow, His purity and truth fall like misplaced promises, and we know for sure it’s this communion that will make us new.