Call for the New Year
Happy New Year, everyone!
Check out this picture- the colors of the sunlight lasted but brief minutes. Brilliance, fading into fog and gray.
A new year always brings anticipation- some of us enter the new year with energy, excitement, and hope-filled resolve. But a new year can also bring pain, fear, dread, worry... kind of like that sunrise. Excitement, fading into the dreary fog of days.
This new year is no different.
Due to some canceled flights, we traveled home on New Year's Day. As we got back to pick up our car, I noticed a voice-mail from a dear couple. I wasn't able to listen to it until I got home. The message was from the grief-filled man, sharing that his beloved wife, "of over 52 years" had been "carried by the angels to Jesus". This dear woman had battled different forms of cancer for over eleven years. We have had the privilege of knowing them for nearly eight of those years. Through these trial-filled days, this couple has been a model to us of steadfast love, faithfulness, and expectant hope. They modeled commitment to each other and to the Gospel. They were faithful prayer warriors and daily prayed that God would give them opportunity to share his word with others.
As I grieved with the husband, he kept telling me all the good, beautiful qualities she had and had shared with others.
I recently purchased a devotional from The Daily Grace Co. called "Thirty-One Days of Prayer for Others". I had planned to start it this year to help me pray better for those around me. As I was reading through the first chapter and verses which challenged us to pray for others with joy and without partiality, I couldn't help but think of this recent loss of a valiant prayer warrior and dedicated follower of Jesus.
I also couldn't help but think of other recent losses within our church of others who were called to their heavenly home. As I was reading the devotional, the writer shares I Timothy 2:1, which says, "I urge you that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone." Everyone needs prayer. The list of people and situations and circumstances and events around us are endless. Yet, are we faithfully bringing them to the Father? Are we praying for seemingly "small" situations? Do we pray for everyone, or just those in our "circle"? How often do we stop what we are doing, as the Spirit prompts, to pray for a certain situation? Is our faith strengthened by our prayers, asking of the Father without wavering? Or are we "double-minded", thinking ourselves or some other method a better candidate to fix someone or something?
James 2:1 says, "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory."
Everyone needs prayer.
Often as we consider the lives of those who have gone before us, we reminisce about their admirable qualities. Prayer has often been a theme among those faithful ones. They understood that God has called them to love others without partiality, to show their faith in the way they treat others. They are living expressions of the love of God. We are no different. If we have been called as his children, this is our task, too.
And who of us will be the faithful prayer warriors? Who of us will show no partiality, but will love without fear? Who of us will serve faithfully, not seeking attention for ourselves? Who of us will carry the truth of the Gospel into our everyday lives to share as God gives us opportunity? Who of us will plead in faith for others- even those we may not know or particularly "like" or agree?
May we commit in this new year to be faithful prayer warriors. God is not demanding we pray perfectly or know all the right words. Rather, he is asking us to pray faithfully, without partiality, confessing our sins, and beseeching him in humility and with joy. (See James 5:13-18, Philippians 2:3-4, James 2:8-9)
Hebrews 10 shares these beautiful verses about the privilege we have as God's beloved ones to come confidently before him, thanks to the blood of Jesus. The writer gives this resounding challenge, "and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the Day drawing near."
May this be our "motto" for the new year- our mantra, as it were.
Faithfulness to the Father's work, prayer without partiality, confession with humility, and joy in the Gospel.
The faithful have gone before us; let us take up the charge as they have, pressing on with the numbered days God gives us, "for he who calls us is faithful!"
May our days, though brief, shine brilliantly for the Gospel, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak and gray world.
Additional songs for meditation: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=rVAf_PsO4mg&feature=share