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There will be a few skunks along the way

recall an occasion when, after being up a good portion of the night with a family during a time of special need, I fought sleep as I headed home.  I needed to get home as quickly as possible with hopes of enjoying a brief nap before speaking at a leadership meeting for a group of ladies.  As I traveled west on Highway 84 I caught a glimpse of something in the road but I came upon it so fast that I did not want to risk swerving to miss it at full highway speed.  It was so mangled that I could not tell what it was, only that it was the remains of some unfortunate animal that met his fate on the dark highway.   After running over it I soon knew what it was as its well known characteristic invaded my car—it was a dead skunk!  If there is one thing better than coffee to arouse one from sleepiness it must surely be the putrid odor of a skunk, and I had a horrible dose of it that was still evident on my car tires hours later.

I hope that is not a foretaste of what the new year has in store for me!

My early morning mishap was unpleasant to endure, yet otherwise harmless (although the skunk did not fare as well).  Nevertheless, we have to face the reality that 2018 will bring us some times in which unexpected, unfortunate, and uncomfortable situations will come our way.  Thankfully the words that God spoke to the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 are useful to us in such times:  “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (verse 9a, New International Version).

As we face 2018 and make plans regarding the things that we hope to achieve, I urge us all to include some spiritual goals.  In fact, if our other plans are to be worthwhile, our spiritual goals should be at the top of the list and given careful attention.

In the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah, the Lord said concerning the Jewish people of that day, “I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart” (24:7).  Those words were spoken during events that occurred more than twenty-five hundred years ago, yet the call for us to have a heart to know God is as real and needed today as it was back then. Even though the people of Jeremiah’s day probably neither understood nor liked their circumstances, God used it as an opportunity to build them up and not tear them down.  He had a plan in process, although it was hidden at the moment.  He has a plan for each of us too.  Only God knows all that the new year holds, but we can rest assured that He has it all under control.

Throughout 2018, ask God to give you a heart to know Him better than you have in the past.  Yes, there will be times when you will run over dead skunks and encounter things that are much more serious than that.  And there will be times when you will want to escape from your circumstances, yet you can rest assured that as you surrender your life to God, His eyes will be upon you for your good and His honor. 

Regardless of the uncertainties and hardships that we encounter as we journey through 2018, we need to bloom where God plants us!