New Year New Me?
New Year New Me?
by Jack Steel
Taking the first steps into a new year can be a somewhat daunting task, almost like breaking in a new pair of shoes, for the first couple of hundred steps you are more concerned about getting them covered in mud or scratched, then there’s the worry that your feet will begin to hurt, as these shoes have not yet softened up, and the new path ahead can begin to look longer than it first seemed as the blisters begin to form…
Like beginning anything new really, it takes a bit of courage to get going - uncertainty is alright, quite normal really. And once momentum has built up, we soon find ourselves half way through and well on our way to the end of the road before we know it.
Yet as we start a new year, with this uncertainty of where to start, of which way to go, it’s perhaps good to take a moment to reflect on what advice we are taking as we take these first steps. Are your first steps this year going to be guided by personal hopes and dreams? Ambitions? Perhaps advice from some sage ‘self-help’ book, tips on how to ‘be a better you’? Who do we, or should we listen to when it comes to directions at the start of a journey? While there are some excellent non-Christian writers and philosophers out there that can grant indeed very wise and sensible advice, as Christians our first port of call to test these waters should be in God, as without His guidance how are we to know which path to take to ensure that we are not lead upon treacherous waters or lee shores.
I’m reminded of the line from Bilbo Baggins, the intrepid fictional explorer; “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Without Gods guidance, starting a new journey and venture can seem a dangerous prospect indeed, for after all who knows where we will end up, swept off in many a direction away from our greater goals or purposes “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Psalm 32:8. After all, without proper guidance it can be all too easy to be lead astray, it happens time and time again in society throughout the course of history. As people we are easily swayed by an impressive speech, strong leader, politician, voice in the media or TikTok trend. The Bible tells many stories of people losing their way, either convincing themselves or convinced by others to take the wrong path.
When Israel found themselves invaded by the Babylonians, Jeremiah helped them begin to make sense of their situation. He spoke a prophetic word to them as if the voice of God was speaking saying “My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill. And have forgotten their resting place.” Jeremiah 50:6. The resting place with God through prayer is a safe harbour, one free from testing currents and high winds, one to regroup and set a true course.
While at the start of the year it can be good to reflect on our own wishes and desires for the year ahead, to dream of something bigger and different, it’s good to remember while doing so that we often carry a faulty compass, that too often points in the direction of the heart’s temporary desires and not necessarily in the direction of God’s desires for us, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
Lean on God through prayer and He shall surely point the way, and you never know, sometimes the place you are meant to be, might be exactly where you are right now. Now while a change of job, city or occupation can sometimes be just what is needed, it isn’t always a quick ‘fix all’ solution and doesn’t necessarily guarantee happiness. In this day and age, it can be easy to be envious of the countless social media influencers or even of our friends, as they fly around the world visiting our dream destinations and living out dream jobs with ‘happy’ lives, yet it’s good to remember that this version of reality as presented, much like the story of Bilbo Baggins, is also highly fictionalised. While it is good from time to time to dip our toe in the pool of fantasy, its best not to linger too long or confuse it with a true fix to life’s problems. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said “How can you wonder that your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you? You are saddled with the very thing that drove you away”. After all you can’t run from yourself, and neither is there need to - God knows us intimately, the good parts and the parts we would rather flee from “You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.” Psalm 139:1.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t travel or make any change to what we are doing in life, but before the sails are unfurled and the wind of our inner desires should let us take flight, we should first confide in God. Even if an answer seams to not be coming “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways…” Psalm 37: 7. And if done so, when the needle of the compass starts to flicker in a new direction, then we will know that it is pointing true.
So, as we all venture out into the bold new adventure that is another year ahead, let us do so in faith and prayer, and who knows, the heights that we could be carried off to might be dizzying in their wonder. After all, that’s what Sanctuary First is all about, undergoing the journey of faith, one step at a time. And no matter where you are, it’s never too late to start Your Daily Walk with God.
“Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval.” Judges 18:6