Gazing at the rushing river one hundred feet below through the shaky wooden slats offered no solace to my fear-filled heart. The taunting and deliberate swaying of the primitive rope bridge by my best friend’s brother further stole my limited courage. Oddly, the image from over fifty years ago flashed in my mind as my eyes rested on the first calendar day of the New Year of 2024. Stepping confidently into a New Year felt much like my first step onto that swaying bridge all those years ago: impossible.
Confidence dwells not in the promise of a certain outcome, but in the promise of God’s Presence regardless of what lay ahead.
Much like my journey across the rapids on that primitive rope bridge all those years ago, my journey through 2023 filled my heart with terror, panic, and uncertainty with every step.
No sooner would I manage navigating past one obstacle, when another stole my breath away. All the while, the deafening sound of rivers of my own grief, and the taunts of the evil one crippled any hope of sure footing.
Beginning just four days into the New Year of 2023, the relentless barrage of hardship and grief continued through the very last day of what seemed an ill-fated year.
“My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”Psalm 6:3 NIV
As I lay in the darkness listening to the fireworks welcome the New Year of 2024, I begged the Lord my eyes would remain holden to the coming year. Weary of disappointments, despair, and suffocating darkness, I felt no eager anticipation for a “new beginning”.
OLD Lessons for a new year
And yet, far from stepping confidently into a new year, I timidly sought the Lord’s Presence early on the first day of this new year.
At times, our greatest comfort rests in the tiniest effort of simply resting in the Presence of the One who knows us best.
In an odd turn of events, or rather pages, I landed on Deuteronomy 11:11-12, where the Lord reminds the Israelites the land they go to possess, is a land curated by God, and His eye remains upon it from the first day of the year to the last.
Though the vast land of 2024 lay uncertain before me, stepping confidently into the new year becomes possible as I remember the lessons learned from crossing the shifting sands of 2023.
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He has said
To you who, for refuge, to Jesus have fled
While still building the fortitude needed to put one confident foot in front of the other, in the midst of swirling self-doubt, 3 lessons speak truth to my weary soul.
God is My help
“Fear not I am with you, oh be not dismayed
For I am your God and will still give you aid
I’ll strengthen you, help you and cause you to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand”
God is My Comfort
As the God of all comfort, He knows exactly the need of my wounded heart. God brings comfort not so I might become comfortable, but that I might become a comforter to others. For faith is not learned in the midst of comfort. (Psalm 94:19, Isaiah 51:12, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
“When through the deep waters I call you to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless
And sanctify to you your deepest distress”
God is My Healer
“When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be your supply
The flame shall not hurt you, I only design
Your dross to consume and your gold to refine”
Yes, my journey through 2023 felt much like the walk across that primitive rope bridge with all its terror, taunts, and turbulence. But despite losing my way, with God’s help, I made it to the other side. In 2023, God’s eyes not only remained upon me, His hand held me on solid ground.
“The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to his foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake”
“How Firm a Foundation”, attributed to George Keith, (1787), and R. Keen (1787)
Though you may falter stepping confidently into the new year, and feel alone or misunderstood, God will never falter in providing His help, comfort, and healing as you move forward to possess your carefully curated portion of 2024.
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