I spent part of my New Year’s Eve standing beside a charcoal grill, not cooking hamburgers but watching them being cooked. Then I went home and turned out my bedside lamp ten minutes before 2015 arrived. I don’t know if sleep or the new year found me first, but when I woke up, 2014 was gone.
It seldom happens that life events align perfectly with calendar dates to make new things and new years coincide, but I have some new things near enough on either side of that marker this year to make 2015 seem likely to be something of an adventure — as, after all, every year in my memory has been.
Though I can’t pretend to know how this adventure will turn out — isn’t that what makes adventures so adventurous? — there are things of which I can be certain, not just for this year, but forever.
What are those things? To put it briefly, they are these: it will be scary, but I should not be afraid.
Paradoxical? Yes, like so many parts of life as a Christ-follower.
Within the space of ten verses in Matthew chapter 10, Jesus assures us that we are to fear not because we are of more value than many sparrows, but also assures us that, to follow him, we must lose our lives (Matt. 10:29-39). Fear not, but confidently expect a sword, a cross, death, for the sake of this Father who numbers the very hairs of your head.
If you are in Christ, you are infinitely precious; and it is going to hurt.
Jesus says in this passage that He did not come to bring peace, but a sword; yet elsewhere, He says that He gives His peace to us, leaves His peace with us, not as the world gives peace, but His own peace (John 14:27). He says we’ll have tribulation in the world, but to take courage, because He has overcome this world (John 16:33).
It’s hard for me to see: peace, but also a sword. Frightening, painful things, but no fear.
The Psalmist says that those who love the Lord’s law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165). But he doesn’t say that there won’t be things to stumble upon.
We can be certain, living in this world with its uneven surface of mountains and gorges, its uneven progress of events, there will be plenty upon which we may stumble. If all were smooth and easy, still we’d deal with the sin at our very core, ready to send us sprawling.
But when we belong to the Lord, we have His promise: He holds our hand (Psalm 37:24).
This is the world which Christ overcame by dying in it. This is the life which is found by losing it. His followers are the overwhelming conquerors who are being put to death all day long, and they follow the King whose hands were pierced for the sins of the world His hands had made. He of no sin became sin, making us, sinners, the righteousness of God.
Resolved in this New Year: Look to Christ. Take Courage. Fear not.
*Article title taken from T. S. Eliot, “Preludes,” IV
Article itself adapted from “Five Minute Friday: See”
©2015 by Stacy Nott