I listened to the entire Bible on my iPhone this year—the NIV’s dramatized edition– as I walked the country trails around Garsington, Oxfordshire.
And the year dies spectacularly as one walks listening to Revelation—chilling, majestic, dramatic.
His eyes were like blazing fire, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. And coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!
Oooh, listening to it was like a worship experience in itself.
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne8 And the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Doesn’t it make you just want to worship too?
Revelation is so sheerly beautiful that I was grateful I was alone as I walked through country footpaths, icy rain blowing into my face, along with hot spontaneous tears I could not hold back as I listened to the sheer chilling beauty of that mysterious book.
* * *
The door I close, no one can open, and the door I open, no one can close.
What a wonderful verse for the New Year. No ramming open of doors shall be done this year, no time-consuming hustling, just a gentle leaning, a gentle knocking, a gentle using of the greatest lever in the world, which is prayer.
And the doors he opens not all the enmity or envy or malice in the world can close, and the doors he closes, we will have the sense not to try to force open.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
The week between Christmas and New Year is a strange week, a melancholic week, a dreamy in-the-womb kind of week, a time of rest before new beginnings.
We bloggers look through our year, and share our best posts, and relive the past, even as we look to the future.
And those who read (or listen) through the Bible in a Year listen to Zechariah, Malachi and Revelation, to the dramatic end of the world in eternal time, even while we prepare for the birth of Christ, and as a New Year, with new beginnings, new goals, the opening of new doors.
Christ’s amazing self-revelation repeated through Revelation is that he is the Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z, both the beginning and the end.
A circle has no beginning, and no end, and so it is with our lives. Christ knew us from all eternity. We already existed in his mind, and he delighted in us before we were conceived. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” (Jer. 1.5).
And in the circle of life, as doors close on each chapter of our lives, new doors open on the next chapter.
* * *
I have been unfit for most of my life, and am now learning to run with Runkeeper, an app which talks to me every five minutes, and tell me how far I have run, how long I have taken, and my average speed. I aim to increase my speed each day, and because I have been so unfit, this daily improvement is, at present, a possibility and a joy.
Yeah, so what? I am no longer the girl who used to take a Jane Austen novel, get into bed, and remain there till I finished it, for whom reading a book a day was, well, normal. I am no longer that girl. I can still concentrate for long hours at a stretch, but not for as long as I could in my twenties. But, so what?
We will grieve not, rather find.
Strength in what remains behind.
As old chapters close, new chapters open. Though we do not have the physical and mental stamina of youth, we do have deepened wisdom and deepened character, which, in the long run, is, of course, worth far more.
In the first half of our lives, doing the will of God involves developing our talents and skills, making a difference in our work or church and nuclear family
As the years pass and we age, and begin preparing for eternity, God begins to work on different things—shaping our characters, as we face declining strength and declining ability. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor 4: 16). As we lose external “powers,” perhaps God challenges us to develop our inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3 3-4).
Yeah, our strength and skills may fail us, but his love rises before the sun, always teaching, always loving, always protecting. The goodness of God trails and shadows us throughout our lives. We are always under his secret service protection.