At the start of a new year it's worth remembering that, while God often surprises us by doing a new thing, there are some things that never change.
When things feel like more of a struggle, we can find ourselves asking the question: where is God in all of this? Has he abandoned us? So it’s important to remember that God’s face is always turned towards us in love: "‘I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise" (Isaiah 43.20-21).
He may be doing new things because this is a new season – in fact, I’m certain that he is – but he is still working to a plan that has been in place since the beginning of the world: "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will" (Ephesians 1.4-5).
We are still called to be Jesus’ ambassadors in the places where we live, in our families, in our friendship groups, in our workplaces, in our social interactions and in the things we do together as God’s people: "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5.20).
Do you remember who I am, says God? I’m the one who “made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters" (Isaiah 43.16). Well now I'm doing a new thing: same God, same power, same authority, but doing something new. And my power is at work in you and through you.
As Jesus’ followers, we are called to put the kingdom first and to consistently pursue a kingdom lifestyle, no matter where the journey takes us or what changes around us. That means having a laser-sharp focus on the things that really matter and being intentional about working them into the patterns of our lives (Matthew 6.33).
Jesus' power to save
God says again and again: Israel, my people whom I love, you have let me down, you have got things wrong, you have wandered off on to your own paths, but I will not let you down, I will do the right thing for you, I will gently lead you back to the paths of righteousness, because that is who I am, that is what I do. Regardless of your past I am writing a new future for you.