We have a special hope for you in the New Year…
God communicated a profound message to us just two days before Christmas. It’s a word that we’re sure He wants us to take into the New Year. It’s not just for our family; it’s a reminder and an encouragement that we all desperately need to hear.
It comes after a frustrating loss that hung over us all month long. Mind you, it wasn’t a matter of life or death. Everything would have been fine if things didn’t worked out. We would have been disappointed, but it would not have spoiled our Christmas. The fact that it did work out, though, and how it worked out, is what makes the whole experience so outstanding. It definitely was God-orchestrated!
The incident was this: We couldn’t find our nativity flag. Not anywhere. It wasn’t in it’s designated bin. It didn’t inadvertently get placed in any of the other bins. It wasn’t with the other flags. Even after each one of us emptied all the Christmas bins, searched every closet, cabinet and drawer on every floor of the house, we couldn’t find a trace of our beloved nativity flag. It had vanished.
The flag is important to our family, because it represents our testimony to everyone who passes by. It’s our reminder to the neighborhood to forget not what this season is truly about.
Our consternation rose to the point where some might have started questioning our sanity. You know the familiar definition of insanity: Repeating an action over and over, expecting to achieve a different result. Each trip to the basement was accompanied by an irresistible urge to take just one more look. Our reasonable senses were completely overcome.
But by December 23rd, we were resigned…there would be no nativity flag this year. With the matter settled, we moved freely on with our holiday plans. That is, until…
Something else was missing. Our collection of holiday books hadn’t made it upstairs yet. It was a perfect setup for taking one more look. After all, the books occupy the same bin as the flag. And even though we had taken the books out several times before in search of the flag, I was determined to approach this search as if it was the first time, with the expectation of actually finding it. In fact, I found myself singing the words, “I believe in Christmas miracles, even for today.”
With the books laying on the floor, I peered into the bin only to find it in the same condition as a dozen times earlier. All it held were empty ornament boxes. But for some reason this time, I felt compelled to reach down to the bottom of the bin. As soon as I did, though I could not see it, my fingers had landed on the familiar texture of nylon. Even when I removed the boxes (as we all had done so many times before), I couldn’t see the flag, rolled up and tucked into a groove at the bottom of the bin. It had been there all the time, camouflaged in the dark furrow.
Instantly, I felt like the woman who lost one of ten coins and who would have no peace until she found it.
“Or what woman who has ten silver coins and loses one of them does not light a lamp, sweep her house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors to say, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost’ coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10)
Our Christmas prayer has been that God led us to find the flag and place it outside just in time for someone(s) to see it, repent, and receive the greatest gift of eternal life. That is our hope for our neighborhood.
And there is another hope. It’s the hope God spoke to me, a believer, for the coming new year. Perhaps you can relate with me as 2016 comes to a close. If so, this word is for you, as well.
I am surrounded by blessings…my family, my friends, my church, my life. Yet, there are blessings that, after many, many years, I am still waiting for. They’re blessings that I am certain God promised, just as surely as I know our nativity flag was packed with our other ornaments. My heart yearns for God’s blessings and promises to manifest. But when so many years pass, and you start feeling like giving up on waiting, and asking, and seeking and knocking, it’s easy to become resigned to the idea that maybe the promise is lost, forever lost.
Abraham and Sarah were all too familiar with the doubts and frustration of waiting. You may be, too. But take heart. God will deliver His promises, and He won’t be late with them. Our nativity flag showed up in time for Christmas. Your promise will show up in time, too. Don’t give up hope. Your promise is in your midst; you can feel it in your heart, you just don’t see it yet. But God will cause it to manifest in the proper time.
I’m going into 2017 with invigorated hope. Our flag experience was God’s message to say, “Keep your eyes and ears open, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking, because rejoicing is coming. Your ‘lost’ promise is going to show up.”
It is our hope and prayer that in 2017 you become the joyful bearer of recovered hopes and dreams that you thought were once lost.
To God be the glory today and always!