Although it was almost 35 years ago, I still remember asking myself what we were going to do about Christmas. My single-parent mom was dealing with the debilitating health issue of Lupus, and she had not been able to work for months.
As I sat thinking, worrying about the issue as a 15-year-old teenager, my mom said, “My Sunday school class will be coming over this Friday night to drop off some things.”
Little did I know those words would change how I see the church’s community involvement. That experience changed my life and made me want others in need to experience what I felt that night as 40 members of my mom’s Sunday school class poured into our 1,200-square-foot home.
What I felt that night is what I want God to allow me to experience in this new year. My prayer for you and my loved ones is that the word “experience” will ring in your ears this new year through three areas of your life.
For some reason, in the body of Christ the word “experience” is looked down upon, sometimes even ridiculed. This is why I’m asking you to lean into that word as we step into this new year. Being authentic is the best way to experience what God truly has in store for you.
I’ve come to realize that when I’m authentic with myself I am more likely to be authentic with others. Being authentic can give us the experiences God wants us to have. This year, the best way I can be authentic is to be part of a community of believers who will not always agree with my beliefs but who will help me be the best authentic person God wants me to be.
One way I can live this out is by increasing my church attendance. My goal for 2023 is to be in church every Sunday. Since COVID, my church attendance and even my desire to attend has dropped off, although my family and I have remained active in our church missionally and by giving of our resources. But I’ve discovered we can and should do better in attendance. There is no better way to be authentic than experiencing what God has for us through being part of an active community of faith.
Another way to experience what God has for us is to be present in every area of our life, including where we work and our families. In a world where being “on” seems treasured, it’s OK to put down your devices and be present. In fact, I’d challenge you to choose a day you would turn off your devices. It’s OK for you to have a do-not-disturb day.
Recently, I spent some time with Henry Blackaby’s son, Richard. Henry, as some of you may know, is the author of the book Experiencing God. Although I’ve never been through the Experiencing God program personally, one of the quotes in the study is to “follow God where his Spirit is working.” Richard is president of Blackaby Ministries International, which presents Experiencing God content alongside the full biblical text in the CSB Experiencing God Bible.
One of the best ways to follow the Spirit of God is to find solitude and rest. I was struck with how Richard Blackaby uses his time of solitude to reflect on updating some of his dad’s works. In 2023, I’ve decided to put down the phone and social media on Saturday to experience what God wants to do in my life for the following year.
As I reflect on that December Friday night when my mom’s Sunday school class changed how I see Christmas, I’ve decided I want to do more of that in 2023. I want to experience serving others in ways that the God of the universe has served me.
One of the questions I want to continually ask myself is, “Am I willing to be a servant of God to experience what God has in store for me or am I living just for me and my agenda?”
Let’s face it, the year goes by fast, so I want to make sure I’m putting God first and being present in the next 365 days. I want to ensure I’m here to serve others well during those days. Just like Christ, who didn’t come to be served but to serve others, I want to experience what he experienced. By experiencing Jesus, I believe we also get to live a life far beyond what we could ever imagine.
Maina Mwaura is a freelance writer who lives in Atlanta.