By Paul Lancaster, Hope For The Nations

Ready For The Unexpected in 2024?

Towards the end of last year, I felt God was speaking to me quite specifically about being ready for the unexpected in 2024 – the good and the not so good. Maybe you wouldn’t express what you are feeling/thinking about the year ahead in this way; perhaps resolutions or one or two things you need to aim for. Hope, radical resilience, courage are themes I have been picking up from some. I do believe that God can communicate with us at any time but somehow at the beginning of a new year we tend to be more focused as we look ahead.

In looking ahead there are things that maybe we know will be happening this year, family events weddings, births and deaths, change of circumstances, house moves or a move from or to Leeds, travel opportunities, going to college/university, qualifying for careers etc. But what about those things that come our way unexpectedly – how can we be ready for those challenges? Some might say – we can’t possibly be ready, since we don’t know: just take life as it comes, one day at a time. And there is much truth in this…“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow… Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34). Being worried will not help us, even though it is often our natural tendency.

You may have seen the story last week in the news of a man in Worcestershire, living near the River Severn, who prevented his property from flooding by building a small protective wall around it, in the middle of vast areas of flooding. It reminded me of the Parable of The Two Foundations (Matt 7:24-27). Here lies a clue when Jesus said “…everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” Yes, storms will come unexpectedly in our lives this next year but we can be like the wise man as we become more and more established on God’s words, being ready for anything. Jesus was particularly referring to his words in Matthew 5-7, so let’s use these chapters as a guide to making ourselves ready.

On a personal level, some of the best opportunities I have had to share the good news of the gospel have come unexpectedly. Perhaps this is why both Paul and Peter in their letters refer to readiness in this context, “…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” Eph 6:15. Peter states emphatically “But in your heart set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” 1 Peter 3:15. Key phrases linked to readiness are good news (gospel), gospel of peace, and the reason for hope.

Let’s take unexpected opportunities and especially share with those who are struggling with many issues at this time, by being and communicating good news of peace and hope in 2024. Happy New Year!