I was on my knees when the first shot was fired. It did not take long for the others to join in. There were sounds of gunshots, fireworks, car horns, bottle rockets, banging pans, and of course lots of screaming. Folks were welcoming in the New Year!
I welcomed 2016 the same as I have done the last twenty-two plus New Years. Those closing minutes of the previous year and the beginnings moments of the new one have all been closed and greeted on my knees in prayer. I have continued a custom handed down by my mother of observing a “watch night” tradition.
Her tradition was to be in worship at a church. Those days are mostly gone, as very few churches, including the ones I have served, make no effort to support or encourage a “watch night” observance. I’m sure I could find a few faithful to join me but it’s been easier just to quietly slip away from the family festivities into an isolated place and spend the time talking with the Lord.
My custom has been modified and personalized to fit me but the same intention is present. My intent is to close the year in thanksgiving to God and to start the New Year offering myself in total surrender.
Sometimes I’ve received a “word from the Lord” but most times I’ve heard nothing. It has just been a time to reflect, offer thanks, and humbly offer myself for another year.
This year is already different. I did not hear anything but I do sense in my spirit that this year is going to be special. Not just special to me but in the body of Christ. I believe that this is going to be a year of shaking and transition that will result in folks, including me, growing closer to Jesus Christ. There are a lot of folks at a spiritual crossroads and this is going to be a year for many to choose to go deeper and to become more intimate with Jesus. Again, nothing I heard just a feeling in my spirit.
The time to get off of the fence is now. The time to fully embrace the Savior and to walk closer with Jesus is now. The time to lift Jesus up as the only real hope for genuine change in our community and in our world is now.
2016 is going to be a terrific year filled with opportunities for spiritual growth. The gunshots and other celebratory acts that greeted this New Year will pale in comparison to the parties that will take place in the heavenly realm, as new disciples are made and as people grow closer to Jesus.
My prayer is still the same: “Lord, send the wind of your Spirit and blow gently across the embers of my heart and fan me into flames for Jesus.”