A new year has come and I guess you will spend a bit of time thinking about it. The years come and go,and today we start another year,and wonder what is ahead. In many ways we ask “am I ready for what’s in store during the coming 12 months”? I recall back in 1968 when the Olympic Games were held in Mexico City. Many great events were held,as they usually do at the events. One of the competitors was a man from Kenya named Kip Keino,an Olympic Gold medallist – one of history’s best long distance runners. In the ’68 games he ran in the 10,000 and 5,000 metre races,and then the big event,the 1,500 metre race. But during the 10,000 metre race he doubled over on the track with a stomach pain. He had gall stones and an infection,and his doctor warned him not to run in the 1,500 race. He ran the risk of dying.
Confined to his hotel room,he was deeply troubled that his country was counting on him,and here he was sick. He jumped out of bed,hailed a taxi,and made his way to the race. Heavy traffic held up the taxi,and he got out of the car and ran the 2 kilometres to the stadium as fast as he could. He arrived just in time to put on his racing shoes and lined up for the race. He powered down the homestretch winning by the largest margin in Olympic history.
A remarkable and true story. A story of determination and courage. How did he do it,risking death? I admire such people simply because they are ready for a challenge,whatever it may be. Life is a bit like that – how would you react in having to face unexpected hurdles or challenges? Would you be ready for hardship – are you ready for a new year that will be like a mixed bag of good and bad ..? So the question is “are you ready?”. A good question for the start of a new year because there will be change – change is one of the few things that stays the same. Is there anything we can do to find stability in life’s storms this year? If you ever saw the movie “The Incredibles” you might remember some advice that was passed from Mrs Incredible to her daughter. She said “Protect your identity – it’s the most important thing you have”. Your identity – that’s what marks who you are. For some of us our identity is clear. For others,it’s a bit muddy. Some of us spend our whole lives trying to find ourselves. How do you mark who you are?
The Bible gives us an amazing incident in the life of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4: 1-11. It’s known as the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness. It’s a wonderful story which could only have come from the lips of Jesus Himself – He chose to share a page out of his private journal so it could be passed to us. Jesus laid open his soul,his identity,and he told us what he went through for 40 days. He went through an enormous struggle
• Read Matthew 4: 1-11
It’s amazing to see that God allowed Jesus to be tested. It was a big identity test that He allowed to happen. And that’s what happens to us sometimes. God tests us and they’re not always happy times. These tests are always painful and stretching for us and they leave us tired and vulnerable. But remember one important fact…God allows the tempting,but He doesn’t do it. Satan tempts,and we can be sure he will complicate things as he did for Jesus in those terrible,distressing days out in the desert. Jesus was stripped of everything – He was without companionship,position,shelter,food,everything. Satan tried to shake Jesus’ identity. But he didn’t succeed for God His Father had said to Him previously “This is my priceless son,I am deeply pleased with Him”. What a wonderful statement. Jesus knew His identity because God had confirmed it for Him. He was safe knowing God was His Father,and He knew that even though His Father would lead Him through some dark valleys,that the struggles would be redeemed with great value. Throughout this year,remember you are a precious child of God. Start each day asking Him to anchor your life and that you want to trust Him. Then you’ll be ready for anything.