Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. (1 John 2:24)
The words we hear in our childhood have great effect on us. Some words can help us build a foundation of healthy self-respect, words like “I love you” and “I can see how hard you’re working; keep it up!” But there are other words that can haunt us for years, words that have wounded us deeply and that need God’s healing touch. Clearly, what we hear “from the beginning” really does “remain in” us (1 John 2:24).
What was it you heard in your spiritual childhood? Think of the words that helped you first begin to love God and understand your place in his heart. Were they “God loves you and has a plan for your life”? Or were they “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16)? Or maybe someone just said, “I’m praying for you.”
Even the greatest saints and wisest theologians treasured the simple truths that framed their original calling. In a famous interview, Jean Vanier covered topics like mysticism and metaphysics, but he concluded with certainty that the most important thing is to become “a little friend of Jesus.” St. Augustine heard a voice telling him, “Take up and read,” and the words he encountered when he picked up a Bible converted his heart instantly. From that point on, his whole life was shaped by continually taking up Scripture and reading.
So how can the words you hear in the beginning of this year remain in you? If you haven’t done so already, think about starting a 2016 prayer journal. Maybe you could inscribe a significant saying or Scripture verse on the first page, where you can revisit it again and again. Or perhaps you’d find it more helpful to stick Post-it notes in your kitchen or on your desk. Try to think of a concrete way of allowing those words to nourish and sustain you.
And don’t worry if you don’t think you have anything to write. Continue letting the daily Scriptures be your food, and you’ll be sure to have plenty of important passages by the end of this month.
“Lord, thank you for how you have brought me to yourself. Help me remain in you by holding on to your truth.”
Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne