During the time period for this issue of the Crosstie, we will enjoy and endure the rush of the holidays.  We will celebrate Christmas, decorate homes and trees, and then put all the trappings of the season away.  We will hear countless renditions of “Auld Lang Syne,” be flooded with advertisements for “one-time-offers” of gym memberships to undo the damage done by holiday food indulging, talk about New Year resolutions, and then launch into a new year.

The Christmas season can stir up feelings of longing as we recall memories of times past, feel again the loss of a loved one, or grieve some other loss in life.  It is okay to feel somewhat anxious or unfulfilled during this time of year.  

In whatever way we might end one year and begin the next, the important focus is our relationship with God.   Turn to God and ask for God’s help in filling you with hope for what lies ahead in 2023.  

Colossians 4:5 reminds us, “Be wise in the way you act…make the most of every opportunity.”  When I think of being wise in our ways, I think of Ashley Smith’s inspiring story that took place in Atlanta.  Maybe you remember.  

One day in March 2005, Ashley came home to find a fleeing murderer waiting for her.  She was held hostage at gunpoint for several hours.  During that time, she responded in an extraordinary way.  She cooked breakfast for her captor.  She read to him from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, she talked about God’s plan for the man’s life and about Jesus.  Later, the man peacefully gave himself up to police.  

The year ahead will present us with many opportunities to make wise choices, to be the presence of Christ and to point others toward God.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  But that verse in Ephesians 2:10 does not end there, continuing to remind us that our good works “God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God has prepared opportunities for each of us in 2023!  What a humbling thought—that God has been making a pathway of opportunity for what will come before us in the new year!  Let us be wise and willing to make the most of those opportunities, especially in sharing our faith with those sent our way.  

Right now, with this newsletter in your hand, join me in praying this prayer:  Dear God, when my heart aches with longing and I have anxious thoughts, comfort me and help me to focus on my future planned by you and filled with hope.  Give me the wisdom to see each opportunity you place before me to do your will and share my faith in Jesus.  Amen.   

– Jim Smith, Pastoral Care Associate

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