It was just a clever line, a sales pitch on a paper napkin from a petrol service station, but it gave me a smile.
When we’re partway through a tiring journey a little help is always welcome. A rest stop, a snack, a shot of caffeine to perk us up or tablet to soothe a sore head.
Help is something we all appreciate and it can come in many forms. It could be that coffee, or being given the right equipment to do the job, or perhaps someone who knows what they’re about who is kind and patient enough to show us slowly (and quite possibly more than once) how to work the computer! It might come in the form of someone taking time to listen with genuine sympathy, give a hug or offer hospitality.
On a bigger scale, a new year is upon us and in a justifiably anxious world we could use all the help we can get! Ethics seem to have faded from the world picture and selfish, heartless cruelty looks to be ruling unrestrained. Who would we trust with power? Where can we turn for assistance? Life happens and often it’s wonderful and we are thankful but sometimes it can turn painful and scary. Wounded and bewildered we cry out for help from beyond ourselves.
The Old Testament Middle East centuries before Christ was just as brutal as it appears to be today. Nations and empires grappled for territory and wealth while orphans and widows fled or were trafficked, homeless and abused.
The book of the prophet Isaiah, written around this time, makes sobering reading. He contends that above and sometimes even through the human protagonists, an almighty God is dealing with His creation and will punish wickedness for He is fundamentally holy and righteous. I’m remembering something Jesus said about not fearing other human beings who can merely kill us, we must have a healthy fear for the divine Judge Who could cast us into Hell!
And yet Isaiah was also given some of the most sublime messages of comfort which we often hear read at this time of year. This same God refuses to give up on His wayward creation but moves in grace to rescue us in the amazing person of Messiah, ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’. Here is a Leader genuinely concerned about others, about justice, about right and wrong, about healing the wounded and broken, about transforming situations by changing people, by shining His light of love and new hope into hearts and lives.
Isaiah in his day had known some fine kings, but also some dreadful ones. Prompted by God’s Spirit he urged people to look forward and upward in faith to a king with God’s stamp of approval and authority. Powerful, miraculously born of a virgin, holy and fit to judge nations and individuals, yet humble and willing to suffer to save His people. In short a King worth following.
Yes, Jesus unapologetically preached that people must ‘repent’ and stop doing things God says are wrong. He called people to follow Him in ‘paths of righteousness’. But this same heavenly ‘Prince of Peace’ offered His life in sacrifice that people who have done wrong might find forgiveness and learn to actually practice a God-pleasing lifestyle!
The Lord offers us profound help, not just a moment’s refreshment or something to distract us from the pain, but fundamental reconciliation with our Maker and Judge. Adopted as children of God and secure in His ongoing grace and never ending love we face the rest of life’s journey with confidence and determination. Inspired by Him our living actually takes on additional depth and direction.
But our Saviour/Master has come to help us.
But some might ask, would the Almighty really help us here ? You and me? Well apparently so for the New Testament says God so loved the world, - everyone, that He gave us His Son, and as the Apostle Paul enthuses in Romans 8, ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ All the help we need and more!
So bring on the new year! We will face it with His resources and live it for His honour and glory and if He so wills achieve much greater things than we ever could alone. Things of divine and eternal significance. For in the end pleasing Him and serving others – these are the things that make life’s journey worthwhile!