Come Away With Me - A Message For The New Year
Ruth Kennedy, our Minister here at Sanctuary First, shares a message for us as a community in 2024.
A preacher once encouraged me by saying that hearing from God is as essential to our souls as breathing is to our bodies. It is a phrase that took root deep down in my heart and a plant I like to cultivate for it is right in every season of our lives and always brings hope and encouragement. Receiving from God and responding to Him will always bring us closer to Jesus and often points others to God too, supporting, pruning and equipping us on our faith adventures. As I share my message for this year with you, I do so with a heart that it might do exactly that for us. That it might encourage and heal our hearts, equip us with how to grow our faith or get to know Jesus, and move us onto God's path — whether for the first time or a prod that we have wandered off. But, in whatever you take from these words, I pray it only points towards Jesus, the author of our faith.
Come with me to a surprising book in the Bible, Song of Songs. A book known mostly as a collection of love poems between a couple but also between Jesus and His Bride, the Church (that’s us!). And what a beautiful surprise God has there for us!
My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come
(Song of Songs 2: 10-12a)
God invites us to leave all that might distract us from our relationship with Him so that we can indulge in His presence like we are escaping into a secret garden that is hidden from view, a place where we have not been before as it is set aside as someplace new for this season. We are reminded that we are loved by God, more than that we are called His beloved, we are starred as his favourite to follow, we are entirely valued and God loves it when we are close to Him. And within this call of being the beautiful one, it doesn’t matter if we have never adventured with Jesus before or if we have and have slipped up or think that we are unlovable. Because God calls on us anyway, what matters is that we say yes now and do things differently.
This year, Jesus invites you directly into a friendship, a deeper relationship with Him.
There is clarity in this word: Wake up from spiritual sleepiness or slothfulness if it has engulfed you, walk away from despondency and worldly vanities, escape with Jesus and be transformed into His likeness. Arise, or wake up!
And if you feel unlovable or forgotten about, Jesus couldn’t be more clear, ‘My friend, come away with me’. Jesus is the one who loves you, and who is mindful of you. Hold on to that this year, for in every season, day and night, the Lord lovingly watches over you (Psalm 121: 8).
Jesus is calling us to a deeper relationship for a reason. This year we are to remember that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11: 6) and receiving blessings from God is good and part of our faith. We aren’t arrogant with it but God lets us know that as we venture with Jesus we see life spring up, perhaps in unusual ways, so keep an open mind when it comes to the blessings and rewards of God. It is, after all, the Creator of the universe who is blessing us!
One final specificity with this word for us.
God knows the winters of our lives, He journeys in them with us. At times these winter rains stop or pass quickly. At other times, they gradually move into a different season and Jesus is with us in them all. If winter and the winter rains are days that are harsh, difficult and dark, hold on to the hope that spring is coming, Jesus will lead you through and be with you in it. Come back to this scripture and encourage yourself with it for I believe it is part of the reason the Holy Spirit has illuminated it for us.
And what is the spring this Scripture speaks of?
In this unexplored place with Him, in this Heavenly, holy place that is full of God’s wonder and glory, it is always spring, where there is always the hope of new life. There are different aromas, sounds, sights and tastes to the season of walking closer with Jesus. This beautiful invitation describes faith where life flows throughout the world, colour replaces the greys of winter and the choir of the world is doing what it is made to do: sing praises to God.
If you are looking for direction in life to discover your identity and purpose — why on earth you are on earth — this word is for you. Jesus says ‘Come away with me, make time and space with me and you will see and hear the songs to sing in your life that you are meant to sing’. These songs may be a metaphor and they may be literal! That is for you and God to know!
We are responding to this word by saying yes to this invitation to ‘Come away with me’ so we are the captivating blossom dancing in the air that points to Jesus, like the blossom from a cherry tree. Where we help each other to live in a place of faith where snowdrops always appear to encourage us in every season, where hope springs eternal and the love and beauty of Jesus blossoms wherever our feet fall in this world.
Grace to you,