Recently, as leader of your State Board of Missions staff, I shared this email with my colleagues as together we seek to serve our Lord and Alabama Baptists during the new year ahead.
The words “Happy New Year” may have already grown old sounding as we have entered 2012. However, I wanted to offer my expressions of affirmation and desire to see this as your best year ever in the service of our Lord!
As all of us know, the past several years have tested our mettle in terms of economic conditions in our country. I hope the new year will bring improvements on this front. Whether or not that is the case, we cannot know. We have to be faithful despite the circumstances.
My reason for writing you is to say thank you for your faithful service through the State Board of Missions. I could not have asked for more cooperation in the overall sense of the word. You have set good examples for others to follow.
Now, as we look to the new year, I want to encourage you to continue this legacy of steadfastness in service to our Lord. I want to stand with you during this next year and face any challenges which may come our way.
Let me call upon you to do a personal inventory in your life. All of us can improve our effectiveness in ministry, and this year will afford us ample opportunities to see where we can make these improvements.
As most of you know, I choose a verse or passage for the new year, which is featured on my emails and personal notes I send to others. My verse for 2012 was chosen back last spring, when we faced the unprecedented tornado outbreak in our state.
During a brief devotional period, in the midst of this crisis and chaos, I reflected upon Numbers 14:24, which focuses upon the lesser known Old Testament figure of Caleb. “But my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has followed Me completely; I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it.”
In my mind, Caleb is the Barnabas of the Old Testament. When others seemed to lose hope, he offered encouragement to them. He set the example for the children of Israel when they were facing a critical moment in time.
This little verse offers us a biblical template for Christian living in 2012 and beyond. The scripture describes him as one who has a “different spirit.” His spirit was one of hope and trust in a time when things were uncertain for the whole family of faith. That is the kind of spirit I want to embody, too.
Caleb was steadfast in that he followed the Lord completely. He did not live in a halfway house of faith. He was sold out to the Lord, come what may. His sold-out kind of spirit is needed so much today as well. May we be like him in this new year!
One thing we need also to see in this verse is the promise. Caleb was promised the Promised Land. Years later, he entered that precious place with his descendants and others. In many ways, our descendants in faith depend on our example of faithfulness in the present.
Forgive my preaching a bit, but this verse has been ringing in my heart of hearts like a trumpet call to duty. Our names are not Caleb, but his sold-out spirit which set the example of steadfastness so long ago remains a path for us to follow in 2012.
May those who come behind us find us faithful!