What can I share from my many years of experience that might be of encouragement to you as we face this New Year? For yes, there are still giants in the land who might fill us with fear. Maybe not Philistines, or Jebusites, but there might be other sorts of ‘-Ites’ we have to face.
My memory takes me back to 1957. I was 36 years old, but I had never lived away from home, nor experienced much by way of adventure, but here I found myself in Australia en route to the remote Highlands of New Guinea. My initial courage had forsaken me, and I felt terrified by the vast distances around me, and still to be travelled. It was then that, unexpectantly, God spoke to me.
‘I know that you face vast distances, but I am pledged to come with you.’ God went on to speak the promise that still fills me with hope and joy. It was this:-
‘You will be able to turn, readily and easily to me at all times as to a friend who is alongside.’
Yes, it is in the Bible. You will find it in Hebrews 12: 5,6, but if you will close the door and speak to God you will find that he will answer you and you will know this is a personal promise for you too.
It is more than fifty years since God gave me that promise, but today it is as precious as ever. No more ‘vast distances’ before me, but the threat of failing health and loneliness, or other whispers from our adversary might cause me to fear. But no, for God is with me.
I don’t bother any more with Watch Night services or New Year’s resolutions. For years I resolved to get up early and have my quiet time and year after year I had failed in the first week, but now I have an inbuilt clock that wakes me soon after six, a pastoral team that have set us on a course of journaling our encounter with God through the Bible, and always that ‘Friend alongside’ to respond to my cry and fill my cup with blessings and anoint my head with oil.
Days may yet come when I am unable to rise early or even read or write, but our risen Lord will always be there for me, and for you too. Nothing can separate us from his love. May we all experience a blessed New Year.