The Baptism in the River Jordan - Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-24, John 1:29-34
When you are on the road traveling toward the realization of your vision, you can get tired. Worn out. You can become empty and emptied out. You can forget who you are and why you matter. You can forget why this vision matters and forget the potential you glimpsed in it at earlier stages.
It is at this point that you need to refresh and renew your mental energies. Wash off the dust and the grime of disappointment and the sweat of all those labors. Reaffirm your worth and the worth of your vision. Enter into the waters and wash off your doubts and your discouragement.
Renew yourself by remembering why this vision matters in the first place. Who is it you are fighting so hard to reach? Why are you fighting so hard for this goal? Who are you fighting? Reconnect with why you are the right person for this vision and the reason this vision is worth the battle. Seek out a mentor who can lead you to the place where you hear the affirmation you need to keep going.
The Wedding Feast at Cana - John 2:1-12
Most people know the story of Jesus turning water into wine for a young newlywed couple. Most people don't know what that wine signified. It signified joy. That's why running out of wine was such a bad thing for a wedding. It was an omen that the marriage would run out of joy, too.
Jesus gathered people who cared about that couple together and he transformed their emptiness into fullness. He restored joy and he improved it. Only he had the knowledge and the skills to do that. Nobody else could have done it.
Jesus wouldn't have known about that need if someone else - his mother - hadn't brought his attention to it. Her encouragement led him to make their problem his problem. He entered into their story and used his talents and gifts to transform it from tragedy into triumph.
In the process, he re-committed himself to the service of the people he had chosen. He committed himself to the journey to Calvary and he committed himself to serve the people in good times or in bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death they did part.
When you're facing discouragement and you're tempted to quit, connect with the people who need you. Enter into their story and search for their need. Adopt that need as your own. Remind yourself of the pain it will cause them if you don't see this through.
Use their pain to motivate you to share more of your talents and gifts, to step out of hiding and take your game to a new level. Make a commitment to serve them in good times and bad, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part.
The Preaching of the Good News & the Call to Repentance - Luke 4: 42-43, Matthew 4: 23-25
After you've taken that step of making a commitment to serving your particular people, it's time to step up your game and take it to a bigger audience. It's time to get active, vocal, share it everywhere. You have good news and you want to encourage people to make the changes in their lives that they will have to make in order to bring your vision to life.
As you share that good news and you encourage others to make changes, you'll find the courage you need to make more changes in your own life. You will reaffirm your vision of the good news as you watch that good news begin to make sweeping changes in the lives of the people around you. You'll start gaining a following and you'll be able to impact more lives than ever before.
The more you share this message, the more that you see the evidence of positive change in the lives of the people around you, the more you will be encouraged and inspired to continue making a difference.
And, sometimes, in the middle of serving others, you fail. You fall. You hurt them. Not that you intended to hurt them, but you do. It's important to recognize when this happens and to admit to it, to own the wrong you've done, and to use your failure as a lesson that will guide you in doing a better job of meeting the challenges the next time. It's important to seek the guidance of someone who is equally committed to you and to your audience in helping you understand why you failed and how to improve the next time.
The Transfiguration - Matthew 17: 1-13
As you are growing your following, gaining in power, strength, and momentum, forces will gather to try and take you down. They will gather to try and destroy your dream because they will see the potential it has for changes they fear will destroy them and the comfortable life they've been living. You will start to have attackers from all sides. These people will be powerful, authorities with the ability to take you down.
You will have a decision to make. You will have to decide whether or not you are willing to continue this fight or whether you are going to surrender to your fears and give up. Choose carefully. One way leads to the death of your dream. The other, quite possibly, leads to your death if not physically then materially.
You will need to take your most faithful followers with you and go to a place where you can regain your vision. You will need to spend time reminding yourself that this dream is bigger than you, that the need for change is greater than you. You will need to draw strength from the visionaries of the past so that you can find the courage to move forward into the future you know is awaiting you with strength and power.
This moment will radically change you. It will mark you. And you will never be the same.
The Institution of the Eucharist - Matthew 26: 26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:19-20
Right before Jesus went out to face the crucifixion, he ate a meal with his disciples. This was no ordinary meal. It was transfused with Him. The bread was transfused with Him, the wine was transfused with Him. It contained the fullness of His power and His glory. He did this so that His disciples would receive the undying strength and his supernatural power to fight the upcoming battle without him. All 11 of those disciples who ate of this supernatural food survived the battle. They were scarred, they were scared, but they did not die. The only disciple who died was the one who didn't eat because he'd left the table already.
Your battle ahead is going to require more than human strength. It is going to require the strength of Love. All things except Love die. Hope will need to be nourished and replenished. Joy will need to be renewed and restored. Keep reminding yourself of Love. Keep walking with Love. Keep allowing Love to be your lantern on the road ahead. Don't let yourself waiver in your commitment to Love, even for a minute.
In all aspects of your life, you are going to need to keep yourself filled with what is truly healthy for you. Otherwise, your hungers will destroy you. If you hunger for love and you don’t fill that hunger with the real thing, you’ll end up filling that void with junk relationships. If you hunger for truth and you don’t fill yourself with the real thing, you’ll end up filling that void with false hope and empty promises.