Hebrews 13:8 proclaims:  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever”.  At the turn of the year, with all the unknown stretched before us, let us set our sail to trust the unchangeable One, and His faithfulness to us to carry us through.

What does it mean to set our sail?  The term is used in a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

“But to every mind there openeth, a way, and way and away,

A high soul climbs the highway, and the low soul gropes the low,

And in between on the misty flats, the rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth, a high way and a low,

And every mind decideth, the way his soul shall go.

One ship sails east, and another west, by the self same winds that blow,

T’is the SET OF THE SAILS, and not the gales,

That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea are the waves of time, as we journey along through life,

‘Tis the set of the soul that determines the goal,

And NOT the calm or the strife.”

We were not designed to be rudderless boats cast afloat on the ocean of life.  We can set our sail.   God created us with a freewill with which we make choices that affect the way we navigate through life.  As we step into the new year, what is the will of God for you, what is it for me?  Do I understand the quote: “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you”.  God’s word declares “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness”,  2 Corinthians 12:9.  If I am finding an insufficiency of that grace which God has declared is sufficient, then I must take stock of my situation with the Holy Spirit’s searching eye to pinpoint the problem.  If I have taken a wrong direction or fallen in pride, all is not lost.  Our failures can become learning curves when we repent in humility.  Many an anguished prayer has fallen to the ground when a person refuses to take the blame for their failure.  God declares His people perish through lack of knowledge, (Hosea 4:6) because they do not understand, or even know, God’s word and ways.

1 Peter 5: 5-7 instructs and enlightens “…..all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”.

So often we seek direction without understanding what is the compass for our lives.  Surely the peace of God is our compass for direction and protection on a daily basis.  God’s peace leads us, not drives us.  Isaiah 55:12 declares: “For you shall go out with joy and be LED forth with peace……”  God’s peace has divine purpose to keep us on track.  His peace is priceless in seeking direction for our lives.

Colossians 3:15 “And LET the peace of God rule in your hearts….”  In order to allow God’s peace to rule my heart and mind, it is needful that I surrender my will.  We all have a will that seeks to dictate the self rule of an unruly heart and usurp Jesus’ lordship from His throne there.  It is easy to sing about surrender under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, but in reality, the real battle is in the school of life where I demand my rights or seek my will before others, or more importantly, God’s!  This is the battleground Paul described in Romans 7.

Jesus, our Pattern Man, heard so clearly from His Father because He lived in a constant surrendering of His will for His Father’s.  His final and most difficult battle of surrendering His will came in Gethsemane.  He agonised over His imminent crucifixion, begging His Father if there could be another way for Him, until finally, He made His decision and declared: “…….nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done”.  (Mark 14:36   Luke 22:42).

God does not need our good ideas in pleading prayers.  As we communicate with Him in prayer, it is often the case that God changes us as we see our lives from His perspective, instead of ours.  Scripture instructs us to let our requests be made known to God……people like to quote that.  However, the full scripture brings further revelation that presents a need to declare, and understand, the full quote:  “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”, Philippians 4: 6-7.  The peace of God has purpose – to keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and through His resurrection life in us, when we don’t block the channel with our unsurrendered will.

As the new year unrolls before us, some may still feel a measure of uncertainty.  Remember the account of the life of Moses.  God preserved his life from a baby because he had divine purpose for him.  When God spoke to Moses in Exodus 4, He asked him, “What is that in your hand?”  Moses was holding a wooden rod in his hand, but when he finally surrendered to the call of God on his life, the rod became the rod of God and demonstrated God’s supernatural power.  God asks us that same question: “What is that in your hand?”  What gifts and talents has He given us that can be used for His glory, to extend His kingdom here on earth.  Who are the people God has placed us with, given us, in our hands so to speak, that God requires us to build relationships with, to bless others?  Jesus gave us all a mandate to love.  He directs each of us to individuals to overcome our differences and love unconditionally.

What is that in your hand?  Who has been divinely placed in your life?

The unchanging God will change us into the likeness of His dear Son incrementally, as we set our sail of surrender to His will, and allow Him to take the helm and navigate us safely through the seas of 2023.

Surrender is key, then we also shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace into the new year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR FELLOW TRAVELLERS……enjoy your journey with Jesus in 2023.

Photo by Evan Smogor on Unsplash