A Dwelling Place {DWITW 365}

Jan 1 DWITW 365 post-photo credit to victoria bilsborough.jpg

January 1. If you are anything like me, your planner is bedazzled with purpose for the upcoming year. We are filled with hope and ambition, and it is displayed in all its color coordinated sharpie and stickered glory in our day planners and gcals. We have some GOALZZZ.

And for some sovereign reason, God prodded you to add “Read the Bible with Dayton Women in the Word” to those plans. Even though we collectively are full, even overflowing from the abundance of the holidays, we are still hungry - ravenous even. But not for something that any cornucopia of company, food, or ritual can satisfy.

I’ve found myself in this place more times than I can count, and I’ve started reading Genesis more times than I count, precisely beginning on Jan 1. It’s embarrassing to me, as a bonafide goal-setter and goal-keeper, and follower of Jesus for over 20 years, that I have never been able to read the Bible all the way through in one shot. It’s become a secret source of shame to me, like somehow I’ve failed this Christian life.

Something has fundamentally shifted in me, however, through Dayton Women in the Word’s ministry. I’ve begun to see the Bible as not something to check off a box. No, far from it. Instead I’ve delved deep into Bible study, to a rich dwelling place with the Lord. As I abide with Christ through His Word, I listen and I learn. Ultimately, God transforms me with His Word, turning the Jillian I once was closer to the Jillian He created me to be in order to most reflect Him.

In His presence, He gifts me not only with knowledge and purpose, but with Himself. With fullness of joy. And He uses the Bible- the whole thing - to do it. Jesus is both living water and the bread of life. This is no empty carb that leaves my stomach still rumbling in an hour. No. Not only am I satisfied, I’m full to the brim. The Bible is a decadent gift, my friends, sweeter than honey to our mouths.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
— Psalm 119:103

Now that I’ve been studying the Bible for a few years, I’ve seen how all the Bible fits together in one big story and that all the Bible points to Jesus, the Word who became flesh and felt hunger himself.

Even at the beginning, tiptoeing into Genesis and Job, we need the promise of Jesus. Adam and Eve dwelt in God’s presence. Perhaps unlike any other human being, Adam and Eve experienced the fullness of His joy. They walked with God and talked with Him!

They were tight with God. He was “their person.” He was everything.

Yet, oh my heart sinks when I read the account of Eve consuming the fruit. As I explain this story to my two year old son, I stumble to find the words for all the dire consequences of sin: “Now Adam and Even had to take a very long ‘time out’ from the garden, but actually they would never get to go back. Bees now have stingers and roses now have thorns. Now you fall and get scrapes and need Lightning McQueen band-aids. Now your baby brother pulls your hair and you wallop him in return…

But the greatest consequence of sin? Separation. From God. From His presence. From His fullness. From His Joy.

Death, and its ache.

For the consequences of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 6:23

God made us to live, and to live WITH him.

In Job, God has allowed his servant, perhaps, the full brunt one can feel of sin’s consequences on earth. Job is not only outside of the garden, he has been stripped of his family, his way of living, his shelter, and his health. Job lost all God’s good gifts to him, all the gifts he might be tempted to worship instead of the Giver. And how does Job respond? “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15a). All He has left is the Lord, and so He dwells WITH God and receives hope, even in his uttermost pain.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
- Romans 5:5

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- John 1:14

As we begin to read God’s story, we must understand that God had a plan for his people to dwell with him again. He never left us hanging. Although we abandon our best laid New Years plans often, He never abandoned His plan. He never abandoned us. God promised to save us and all the promises of God found their yes in Jesus. From the get-go, God was faithful and He is faithful still.

So what now? God created us to live, and live abundantly, with Him. Because of Jesus, now we can dwell with Him again, through His Holy Spirit and through His Word. So we run to Him, to His Word, eager and ready and sitting at His faithful feet. This year we will live a full life, not because of the gifts God gives us or takes away from us, not because we are living in a garden or in a barren wasteland, not because we are faithful to a Bible reading plan or utter fanciful prayers.

We will live a full life in 2018 because we will live with God.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
- John 15:5

So why am I reading the Bible start to finish and leading all of you to do the same? Because I want to be with God. In his presence. I want to dwell with him. I want with-ness. Intimacy. Closeness.

I want a city of women abiding with their Savior, because I want you to be full of His joy. I want you to live without the consequence of being separate from Him, which He demolished with His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

We no longer have to wait to be with Him. We don’t need someone to go before God on our behalf. We don’t have to call His secretary and set up an appointment. He’s here, babes. He is IN YOU. With. You.

Nothing is holding us back. We don’t have to. We get to. Not a check on a box, but fullness of joy.

Are ya ready?

Let’s enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
— Psalm 100:4

Jillian Vincent loves Jesus. She's a wife, mother of two boys and a Dayton enthusiast. Jillian currently is a stay at home mama and spends nap times jotting on her blog and discipling other women. She would (almost) die for an avocado, a cup of coffee made by her husband, a novel that makes her cry, and a bouquet of sunflowers.