Happy New Year! Almost a month into 2024, with the summer holidays drawing to a close, that greeting almost feels redundant now. But given this is my first ‘Soft Hearts’ newsletter for 2024, and my first opportunity to share something of my heart with you this year – it still feels ‘right.’ Writing to you most weeks is an honor that I don’t take for granted. That you would take the time to read, and sometimes respond to what I write – well that’s a double honour. Thank you.
For me, there’s nothing like the anticipation experienced when opening a new novel of a favourite author (Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Tim Winton…), the inviting aroma of my morning cup of coffee (aaaah) or the crisp feel of newly laundered bedsheets (bliss). New is fresh, promising – sometimes exciting even.
That’s what clicking over into a New Year can feel like. There’s nothing magical about January 1, or the month of January for that matter. Perhaps it’s the crazy rush, and then the collapse into Christmas most of us endure – or the lazy summer days many of us experience as we take a breath, a season where we struggle to remember what the actual day is. Is it Monday, Tuesday…Thursday?
Saying this, I know many of you worked right through the holiday period, however even if we work through this time, it can be quieter. Whatever the reason, this time of the year can feel like the pause button has been hit, like a moment to embrace a reset. But in the end, all good things must come to an end. The pause button is hit again, and normal ‘play’ resumes.
My first working day of the New Year after a short break was January 8. Into my Pitt Street office, I headed. I was excited. Another year of potential and possibilities, opportunities, and challenges to ‘do all the good I can’ was opening in front of me – another year to enjoy this adventure of faith. Of course, I was welcomed by an avalanche of emails, and a ‘to do’ list that became longer by the end of my first week. Much longer. So, while I was excited to go back to work, I was also edgy on that first day, and the days leading up.
While it is a New Year, many of the challenges I (temporarily) left behind when I ‘clocked off’ after Wesley Mission’s fabulous Christmas Day lunch (more on that later) were there to greet me again on January 8. No surprise really that they hadn’t disappeared. The year ahead is indeed filled with new potential and possibilities (so many!), but it will also be lived facing challenges, large and small, old and new.
And so, just because God is indeed so good, on the eve of my first day back I was reminded by that ‘still, small voice’ that I will not traverse the ebb and flow of the year ahead alone, but that always breaking through the momentary shadows will be the steadfast love of God – love that both envelops and bears me up, and which leads me forward. Because God is love, his mercies, his kindnesses towards me are, and will be new every morning – tailor made, bespoke creations for that day. And that is enough. In fact, that will always be more than enough. And what is true for me, can also be true for you.
My prayer for you this new year is that no matter your faith background, you will experience in some tangible, life-affirming and surprising ways the steadfast love of a God who never slumbers nor sleeps, and whose kindnesses are always perfectly ‘on point.’