The young couple attends the same church where my wife and I worship. I had seen them many times, but this time was different. The young mother held a special gift in her arms—their young baby girl. However, on this day, what caught my attention was the expression on the baby’s face. Cradled in her mother’s arms, she was sleeping peacefully, and her face was the picture of a baby who was totally relaxed. Her face did not reveal any worries or discomfort—rather it was a picture of contentment and security.
I thought to myself, Of course she is secure. She is safe in the arms of her loving mother.
As I write this editorial for the January 2010 issue, I find it difficult to imagine a new year at the doorstep. The challenges of 2009— financial, political, etc.—cause me to wonder what 2010 will convey. Will the uncertainties of 2009 carry over into the new year? Most likely they will, joined with the old ones.
Security in our life
Nations, families, and individuals— including clergy—seek security. We may desire security, but where will we find it? May I suggest that lasting security comes from God, the same One who has called us to ministry? Just as our friend’s baby experiences security in the arms of a loving mother, you and I find security in the arms of God. I do not know what any of us will face in the new year, but I pray you seek refuge in the arms of our Lord.
During this year, when you experience spiritual challenges in your life, when you wonder how you will help others with their spiritual needs, I pray you will remember that you develop spiritually in God’s embrace.
Remember the blessing Moses pronounced over the Israelites?
“The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the
everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27, NIV).
That same blessing is available to us and the same everlasting arms want to hold us. Even though we do not know the future, I feel certain each of us will want to experience the security that comes from being held by God. Furthermore, the same arms that give you security want to hold those closest to you—your spouse and children. Trust them to the arms of God.
Security and those whom we serve
Whether you are a pastor, chaplain, seminary professor, or denominational leader, ministry involves service. Yet in this work of service, we face challenges we would rather not have.
What will your challenges be in this new year? Will it be an unwanted move? Or a decision of a board or committee that is different from what you were hoping? Perhaps, in spite of hard and effective work on your part, you will receive severe criticism. Yet, even though others give us challenges, God does not ignore these challenges. The prophet Isaiah shared this promise with the Israelites and it is available to God’s people in 2010 as well:
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those
that have young (Isa. 40:11, NIV).
The ones whom we serve in our ministry—even when they take actions we do not agree with—need the security that comes from God. God willingly holds them in His arms as well.
Starting the new year
At the start of a new year, we usually think of goals, plans, and dreams for a better year. Those exercises are valuable, but this year, may I suggest we focus on the security we all desire. In a world where security is often elusive, God has not forgotten us. Jesus, in His long and personal prayer for His followers, prayed, “ ‘While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe’ ” (John 17:12, NIV). That protection is still available, and we experience it when we allow our Father to hold us—secure in the arms of God.
In this new year, when things go well, thank God. When you have diffi cult decisions to make, cling to God. When you face challenges, seek safety in God. Safe in the arms of God—that is lasting security