On New Year’s Eve it snowed a heavy wet snow as if trying to decide if the warming temperature merited snow or rain.   It was the kind of weather that would motivate most any creature to hunker down and find shelter.  As I do every evening, I trudged to the barn and cupped my hands in megaphone fashion shouting my familiar high pitched call for the horses to come in.  It’s a call they recognize and have learned to trust knowing from many years of experience that their obedience to it will provide fresh hay, a possible handful of grain and the security of a dry stall.

Between my repeated calls I stood under the protection of an overhang listening into the darkness for a sound of response.   I knew I had been heard but also knew that the distinct tone of my call always takes a bit of time to sink in. Knowing the little I do concerning horse psychology I’ve become acutely aware that whenever my call is heard a decision process takes place.  A choice must always be made between the freedom of the open field and the benefits of obedience.   I’ve been observing it for some thirty-five years and it usually happens the same way every night.  First, all four horses raise their heads and perk their ears toward the beckoning call.  They stand frozen for several minutes until one horse (generally it will always be the same one) will take a few steps in the direction of the barn.  Next, the other horses not wanting to be left behind start to join the leader, tentatively at first, but with every step the pace quickens until  a race begins for the corral gate.  Last night I was listening for the sound of galloping hoofs on the distant hillside and looking for the first sign of my small gang to appear out of the storm.  As many times as this evening ritual plays itself out I never stop feeling a sense of relief when they all arrive.

For me this was a hopeful and prophetic picture of the New Year.  It was a picture of a faithful people running with expectation out of an uncomfortable storm into a better place of security.  It was a picture of many responding to the Master’s call for provision.  But mostly it was a picture of victory.

2009 has been a stormy difficult year for many.  As pastors of a church that cares for a lot of folks we have seen and experienced heart ache. As a city, Boise has been hit hard with massive unemployment as has much of the nation.  Like the rest of the country many people who had aspiration for retirement in their sixties have had plans and dreams stressed with the loss of mutual funds.  Some have lost their homes to foreclosure and many who started the recession with savings have resorted to using them for survival.  The church’s food bank has been stressed with demands that have doubled its normal output.  Economic and social pressures have put undo stresses on relationships exasperating the problems.  It’s been hard.  And because no man is an island, especially in a tight church community; it’s been hard on everyone, especially for those who have hearts of compassion and deep feelings of empathy.  It’s been a storm, but in the end it has awakened many to the Masters beckoning call to trust Him for security and comfort.

Nancy and I believe that the Lord is calling all who will respond to his voice into a new place of victory in 2010.  This doesn’t mean that the storms won’t continue to rage, but for those who choose not to rebelliously remain in the open range, he will provide provision and refuge.  Like my horses, a decision to respond to the master’s voice must be made.  In every small group some must rise up and take the leadership to be willing to take the first steps of radical obedience in order to begin the charge.  This will require long term vision; even eternal vision.  It will require people to stop dwelling on their short term crises and see the bigger picture of what God is doing.   This will take people who have their ears perked, sensitive to the Lords beckoning voice, always listening with faith, believing that his voice can be heard above the distracting roar of the storm.  It will take a people who are weary of the storm, eager to be in a new and better place; a people who are not satisfied or content with the misery, but ready and willing to move (even to run) through the darkness towards the distant light of the Lords fresh provision.   We believe that 2010 will be a year of great victory for many as they beckon to His call for obedience and surrender.