The Time In Between: A New Year Reflection by General Lyndon Buckingham

At the time of writing this short reflection I am enjoying the days between Christmas and New Year.

It’s vacation time and the pace is much slower than normal. I am looking out over beautiful, rolling green hills and it is so quiet and peaceful. I can feel my mind and body going, ‘aaaaahhhh.’ Thank you, Lord, for days of rest and restoration.

It is a perfect time for reflection. I thank God for His grace, mercy and love in my life and the lives of my family. I acknowledge His faithfulness to all His promises. I can see His hand throughout the events of 2023. I acknowledge, without hesitation, the impact of His sustaining grace during a year full of challenges and possibilities. God is good. I reflect on the power of prayer, the vitality of God’s Word and the joy of fellowshipping with His people. I recognize the privilege of being engaged in the mission of God as expressed through my service in The Salvation Army. I also give thanks for the impact of Salvation Army ministry around the world. I am thankful for Salvationists globally who have served faithfully throughout 2023, many in extremely difficult circumstances. Your faithfulness and dedication is an inspiration to me. It also makes a difference in our world.

God’s promises for a new year

The time ‘in between’ prompts some thought about the New Year. I know there are many people who face the year with a degree of anxiety, fear and uncertainty. The world is very troubled at present. Our news is full of reports that increase our concern and cause us to wonder what the year might bring for us all.

I have been reflecting on some Scriptures I find both reassuring and motivating as I prepare to embrace 2024.

Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version): ‘The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’

Lamentations 3:22-23: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’

Isaiah 41:10: ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’

With promises that include His presence, salvation, love, strength and faithfulness, I am ready to embrace the challenges and the opportunities a new year offers. How about you?

Ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us

Whilst the world may be full of uncertainty, our mission in the world as The Salvation Army remains very certain. Let’s continue to be a people who love God supremely, always looking for opportunities to give him praise and credit for who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus. Let’s always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. We need a global Army bursting with people ready and willing to communicate the difference Jesus has made in our lives; that salvation is possible for the whosoever through faith in Him.

I want us to continue to demonstrate our love for God by loving others, especially the unloved, the vulnerable and those forced to the margins of society. Finding ways to care for others becomes a practical demonstration of the values of the Kingdom of God.

The power of a holy life

I encourage all of us to be very intentional in our discipleship journey in 2024, pursuing holiness in every area of our lives. Please do not underestimate the power and influence a holy life can have on those around you. A life lived to the glory of God and with a genuine desire to be the aroma of Christ in the world will have impact. Our individual contribution may be small, but the collective impact can, and will be, significant.

The world needs the contribution we can make. We may be small in number, but we can and will be a mighty force for good when clear about our mission, empowered by the Holy Spirit and willing to get involved. Count me in!

Grace and peace.

God bless you.

Lyndon Buckingham
General