Have you ever longed to live the kind of life where everything was ordered, nothing untoward ever occurred and as each new week came along you were able to plan in great detail how events would unfold? I certainly do. I have a worryingly intense desire for a diary where nothing is ever crossed out and where there is always sufficient time between visits and appointments to reflect on the one just completed and prepare for the next one.
Actually, most of us live in the real world, where the events of life are much more unpredictable and where at a moment’s notice we find ourselves adapting to changed circumstances and having to change schedules and reassess priorities. Perhaps that’s a good thing, at least it keeps us on our toes!
In Matthew, Jesus learns of the arrest of his cousin John the Baptist. This dramatic and, what would prove, fatal intervention becomes the trigger point for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. We can only ponder what Jesus’ thinking and decision making process was, but Matthew tells us clearly that Jesus responds to his cousin’s arrest by returning to Galilee to begin to preach a message of repentance and of the Kingdom of Heaven.
How can we live a life of poise and balance, neither pushed to and fro by events or searching hopelessly for meaning and direction? It’s not easy. Looking at Jesus we see someone who was under enormous pressure; everyone wanted a piece of him, his time was limited, his financial resources non-existent, his staff less than reliable. Despite these pressures and limitations we see someone with a profound sense of inner peace and a clear sense of purpose that allowed him to prioritise all the calls on his time and energy.
As this year unfolds there will be many surprises along the way and many plans that will have to be altered, but through it all we can be at peace and also be purposeful as we learn to trust God and to listen out for his leading. May this be your experience throughout this coming year.
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
Its is well, it is well with my soul.
Horatio G Spafford
Grace and Peace