Happy new year!
Are you happy enough?
Now I needed strength to enter the new year because of the feeling that I hadn’t enough strength to sustain the youth ministry I am in. Looks like I may be here in this city for one more year, ensuring a transition in the ministry from one Youth Chaplain to the next.
Encouragement came through the Word of God – the Word that creates and sustains. I hope this encourages you too!
Three verses came to my rescue at a time the feeling of inadequacy to lead a youth ministry gripped me, at the end of 2017 :
2 Samuel 23:10
but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
This appeared as I was reading Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, a book that has found its way into my heart, family life, ministry, sessions and sermons! The verse emphasized the perseverance of Eleazar at a time his troops seemed to be losing the battle. He fought on…
… till his hands froze to the sword …
Hang on in there, Mathews, the verse seemed to say to me.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
A verse read at every Christmas carol service, yet overlooked, as most don’t listen to the lesson readings in between the melodious carols.
A stump is what is left after a tree is chopped down. It bears no hope for fruit bearing or growth. It’s a sign of destruction and hopelessness. Yet Isaiah, driven my the prophetic vision conveys the imagination of the God he serves :
There is hope even for a stump.
God will enable life to emerge even from that which is dead and hopeless.
That’s enough for me and the ministry I am given. It’s not me who is leading it, but the Lord God, the creator and sustainer of life. Not only will a shoot come out of the stump, but also will the root bear fruit!
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
This passage lit up again while I went through a sermon I had prepared in October. It reinforced the above two verses. Together with these, I entered the new year with great hope and I wish you do too.
I was wondering how to sustain the momentum and growth of this ministry I am in. Sure it’s what I have always wanted to do! Now it needs further growth, more impact and expansion. And I don’t exactly know how, although I have made plans for the year. You could say, I am blind and can’t see the way forward.
But this verse, yet again from Isaiah, reminded me to hold the hand of the one I serve and just walk along, to places that I never knew. That’s super exciting. And he will shed light amidst darkness and make rough places smooth.
That’s enough. All I need for a new year is here. Now all that we might need is coming back and reading these verses every day.
I hope these verses encourage you. Let it brighten up your heart and fill your limbs and joints with strength. May the Word of God spur your will to be the blessing to this world you are meant to be.