On Jan. 1, the kids, Missy and I held our traditional New Year’s family devotion. This is not some sappy time of making resolutions we won’t keep, but a time to reflect on the previous year’s successes, failures, joys and heartaches. Each person, from my nine year old and up, shares some of their happiest and most exciting experiences as well as the difficult ones they would prefer to forget or not retrace. I prefer it this way, because I know both mountaintops and valleys teach separate lessons. The fond memories bring gratitude for undeserved blessings and the painful ones provide an opportunity to learn and grow, as well as the reminder of how much we need God.
I felt my heart beat faster when I heard my kids relive their thrills from various moments in 2012 such as graduation, making the volleyball team, going with dad to preach in Alaska, playing hockey and especially the mention of our family vacation where I was able to spend time with each one of them separately. Nothing makes the FATHER happier then seeing his children fulfilled!
Not all of the memories were honeycomb sweet. Sorrows communicated by each person brought a stab of their own. Heartaches through the death of friends, wrong personal decisions made, missed opportunities and betrayal of friends disguised as allies were difficult to process.
I reminded my tribe that God allowed every victory and defeat to take place to grow us, teach us and make us more dependent upon Him. I explained the measuring stick for a prosperous 2013 was gauged on our growing closer to Jesus than ever before and no matter what we accomplished, it paled in comparison to a stronger relationship with Christ. Truly, this most important relationship is what we were made for.
We read the story of the untouchable, alienated leprous man. He was an infected, scab-riddled outsider who was quarantined by family and society to live in a colony of other outcasts. That is until someone finally reached out toward him instead of backing away from him. The one who placed his hand upon him was Jesus. God’s touch not only healed the rotting of his flesh but more importantly, the rotting away of his hope. Oh, the power of love and acceptance!
I told my family we could be the hand of God ourselves by welcoming when others shun, loving when others hate, and taking action when others are too afraid to “get involved.” It’s time for us to take a bigger step out from the crowd and experience the wealth that comes from risking ourselves for the sake of others.
I pray Jesus will touch my wife, children and me. In different ways we all have our own need for healing. That includes you, as well. And I pray we will take that goodness and pass it on to others.
This year holds struggle and strength and each will be allowed to carve us into the image of Christ. This truth is enough for me. The guarantee that God will not leave or forsake me is the promise to which my heart is anchored and the hope that I pray I can transfer to others.
After all, what more could I want as 2013 opens a new window of opportunity for me to touch and be touched?