So 2016...

Lots of people seem to have had a bad year. Friends have lost close family; I've lost friends, and I know people who're really suffering at the moment. And folk have said that we have lost more 'celebrities' than usual, so they're feeling all sad and aggrieved. And, on the world stage, things have been pretty tough - lots of war and unrest, refugees fleeing, looking for safety, and often finding no more than a watery grave - terribly sad, and a real indictment on all of us. So it looks as though, on some levels at least, 2016 has been pretty dire.

But how was it for me?

Well, it's pretty hard to sum it up - even just trying to précis my blog posts would take ages and use far too much space - it’s hard to think what was important and what wasn’t. But here goes anyway...

Emotionally, it started on the lowest of lows; it was awful, and I could see no way forward, except into more awfulness - and I just didn't want to go there. But then my lovely friends, and God, stepped in and turned it around - and how! It's very hard to describe - I don't really have the words - but it's good. I think the biggest thing is that I have actually learnt, and experienced deep down, what unconditional love is.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16-18

It's an odd way for things to proceed, in a way - but when have I ever done things the 'right' way? The way I thought it was supposed to work was that God gave one love for one's fellow-people, rather than one's fellow-people giving one love for God. Ah well, I got there in the end, and that’s what counts.

And, in consequence of all that, my spiritual life has taken a large step forward. It feels as though this actually applies to me:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

I have made some new friends too, who have become very dear to me.

So all told, it has turned out to be a beautiful year in lots of ways.

Part of me wants to thank everyone individually - but it would take up a lot of time and space, and I know I'd worry about forgetting someone important, and get upset when I realised who I’d forgotten. So I'm not even going to try. I hope that you know who you are!

From the very depths of my being:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

…Both now and in 2017.

Copyright © Phil Hendry, 2016