Hello 2014. Pleased to make your acquaintance, although, in truth, I’ve yet to determine whether to call you friend or foe. You are 365 days of unknowns. You are 52 weeks of lurching between happiness and discontent. You are 12 months of ageing.
Anticipation of a new year brings parties of the most flamboyant variety. We drink to new opportunities as fireworks flare, or perhaps we drink to drown out the neon question mark hanging over the year ahead.
Will we have more devastating natural disasters? Will there be relationship breakdowns? Will we struggle with intensely difficult personal circumstances? Will support be there when we need it? Or will it all be rosy?
We have no control over the landscape of 2014, but we can take command of our attitude and outlook. Easy in theory; less so in practice. Which is why there is much to be said for chewing over the promises God offers us in His word.
“I will go before you,” He says, over and over again.
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down the gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)
God steps into all our tomorrows and forges a way forward. He prepares the way, clears barriers and ensures that we have the necessary equipment to face each new day. Moses reminded Joshua of this promise as he prepared for a battle pitted against him.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” he said. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
With God going ahead of him, Joshua was victorious.
When someone goes first, our courage is buoyed. When a friend has tested the depth of the waterhole before you swing out on that rope. When hubby walks first on that snake-infested bush track.
Consider the ancient vocation of cup-bearer. His duty was to sit at the royal table and guard the king’s cup against poison. Sometimes he was required to take a gulp of the wine or a mouthful of food before serving it to the king.
If mere man can demonstrate such loyalty and concern, risking his own life for his king, to go before him testing for poison, how much more will God – who created us and loves us as his sons and daughters – prepare a way forward for us.
This is no guarantee that 2014 will be smooth sailing.
But when God goes before us and we trust Him with our every minute, there are “treasures of darkness” and “riches stored in secret places”. I believe this alludes to the knack God has for turning the most dire and impossible circumstances into joy and blessing. I know this first-hand.
So, hello 2014. Your geography is unknown to me, yet I will not allow worry or fear a foothold. Inexplicable peace is mine for knowing that God has already visited all of my tomorrows, preparing a path.
He goes before me.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday January 6, 2014.