All around us “Hallelujah” choruses break out— We are done with 2020— bring on the New Year!
I have always loved how new hope arises at the start of a new year. Around the new year I often like to sit down and record all the best thoughts of the year we are leaving behind and record hopes and dreams for the next year. My eyes are always opened to valuable nuggets from the past year as I go back and do this, but I know most of us are saying “Good Riddance” to 2020. We are ready for a New Year with a new start and along with that hope of the New Year perhaps we’d like some guarantees for 2021…
Like maybe a guarantee that we will be home free from coronavirus
Or that our local coffee shop will be open for dine in again.
Or how about a guarantee of a nice vacation— perhaps somewhere tropical?
Or guarantee of a new house,
Or return of a loved one.
Or freedom from an illness…
What about a guarantee for a year of better health? For ourselves, family and friends.
Or a guarantee of a good, productive year
Perhaps finally doing that thing we’ve always wished to do…
Yes I’d like all these guarantees and more… wouldn’t you?
As much as I wish these things were guaranteed for 2021 the truth of the matter is that a new year will unfold and there is only one thing 100% guaranteed for sure— and that is the steadfastness of God.
Each Christmas season I find myself meditating on one of Jesus’ names: Emmanuel- God with us. In that name is all the treasure trove, all the help, all the secure protection we could ever hope for.
God loved us so much He sent His Son— apart of himself— into this dark night— dark world. The Light has come!
The same is true for us today— His name still is “Emmanuel: God with us”. He is here— in the darkest night— in the moments of 2020 we thought we couldn’t go on.
And now we can know, without a doubt—
It is guaranteed
He will be with us in 2021 too—
Steadfast to the end.
Now the truth of that, if we’d just take a moment to mediate on it, will wrap us up in comfort and hope just like a big cozy blanket. Big cozy blankets… they are just the thing we need right now, aren’t they? They are warm and safe. Our kids each received a fuzzy blanket for Christmas, and let me tell you, it is hard to get them out of those things. Once they are snuggled in, reading a book or watching a show, it is a most comfortable spot they are not willing to forfeit easily.
In Psalm 119: 7-12 it says is no where that we can go to flee His presence. There is no year that He is not there. No situation that He’s unaccounted for.
He is with us.
And perhaps in these moments of extra challenge— we see His light burn brighter than our eyes would have seen in the normal light of day— it’s in the darkness that our hearts yearn for the Great Light and, just like a cozy blanket, it brings us warmth and comfort to us weary travelers.
I think of the shepherds— accustomed to roaming the dark fields and guarding their sheep— that night the dark sky lit undeniably with Heavenly Presence and their night of darkness was interrupted by the news of a baby in the manger.
And the wisemen— their scopes in hand— took in the night sky, yes they had each star memorized. But there— something new— a star— a Presence of Heavenly Glory guiding them to the Christ Child. It interrupted their normal sight for a view of the spectacular that led them to the new king.
So you see— the darkness— the normalcy— it is interrupted by a Great Light and that light shines even GREATER because so dark was the night all around.
Perhaps in the darkest night (or a challenging year) where our normalcy is tested— we see Him shine all the brighter.
We see that He is “Emmanuel- God with us”.
So cozy up with the warming truth of that statement— yes drape that warm fuzzy, comfy blanket on your shoulders— and ask God to continue to reveal who He is to you more and more. Ask Him to teach you, to open your eyes in a new understanding. I believe He will. And that truth, it will set our lives ablaze… for when we behold the steadfastness of our wonderful Father, we in turn realize that we are steadfast because we are found in Him. Nothing moves Him, nothing shakes Him. And because we are found in Him, we can be immoveable, unshakeable through the greatest challenges too.
Yes, it is the best guarantee (only guarantee we can be sure of) is that He is Emmanuel God with us.
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5
Happy New Year, friends!
Until next time,