The last 22 months have added a whole new level of challenge to your leadership. To state the obvious, it has been difficult at times. In 2020 you had to pivot without warning. You poured your heart and soul into leading others. You gave God your best, waiting for things to return to normal. Then 2021 came and nothing changed. In fact, you faced even more discouragement and frustration. Now, as you enter 2022, you might be asking yourself, “will this year be any different than the previous two years?”
The Hope of New Possibilities
Although much of what you have experienced has been beyond your control, it is possible to go through life with your own repeated and frustrated attempts at effectiveness. It is possible to find yourself exhausted and miserable, and at the end of each day with little or nothing to show for your efforts. It is also possible to be hanging on to “how you wish things were” so tightly that you are unable to see the hope of new possibilities.
Christian hope is not fleeting wishful thinking. It’s also not pie in the sky dreaming. Christian hope is grounded in the love of God we know in Jesus and our belief that the worst thing is never the last thing. We are resurrection people and as followers of the living God, we are people of hope.
Take a minute to read this story and reflect upon how God is working in your life with new possibilities of hope for this year. Notice where Samuel finds the presence and power of God
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to grieve over Saul? I have rejected him as king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and get going. I’m sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have found[a] my next king among his sons.”
“How can I do that?” Samuel asked. “When Saul hears of it, he’ll kill me!”
“Take a heifer with you,” the LORD replied, “and say, ‘I have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will make clear to you what you should do. You will anoint for me the person I point out to you.”
Samuel did what the LORD instructed. When he came to Bethlehem, the city elders came to meet him. They were shaking with fear. “Do you come in peace?” they asked.
“Yes,” Samuel answered. “I’ve come to make a sacrifice to the LORD. Now make yourselves holy, then come with me to the sacrifice.”
Samuel made Jesse and his sons holy and invited them to the sacrifice as well. When they arrived, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, that must be the LORD’s anointed right in front. ” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Have no regard for his appearance or stature because I haven’t selected him. God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the LORD sees into the heart.”
Next Jesse called for Aminadab, who presented himself to Samuel, but he said, “The LORD hasn’t chosen this one either.” 9 So Jesse presented Shammah, but Samuel said, “No, the LORD hasn’t chosen this one.” 10 Jesse presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD hasn’t picked any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Is that all of your boys?”
“There is still the youngest one,” Jesse answered, “but he’s out keeping the sheep.”
“Send for him,” Samuel told Jesse, “because we can’t proceed until he gets here.”
So, Jesse sent and brought him in. He was reddish brown, had beautiful eyes, and was good-looking. The LORD said, “That’s the one. Go anoint him.”
So, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him right there in front of his brothers. The LORD’s spirit came over David from that point forward.
The Main Character
The Lord sends Samuel on a mission to anoint the next king of Israel. Samuel reluctantly responds to God’s call but proceeds with his own preconceived ideas about the new king.
Notice, even though there will be a new king, the main character in this story is God. The critical decisions are made by God. The mission directions are given by God. Samuel, Jessie, and his sons and especially David, are actors in a story where God produces, directs, and plays the lead role. David is not asked his opinion, asked to produce a resume, or asked if he wants to be king. He simply shows up. This is God’s mission and Samuel has been invited into it.
God’s Presence and Power
The story reveals that God’s presence and power are easily overlooked by Samuel. His ideas and perceptions get in the way.
It is interesting that Samuel, being from northern Israel, was more familiar and comfortable with the northern context. He expresses his fear of going to Bethlehem, a city in southern Israel.
God’s presence and power are in the new and unfamiliar places, as well in encounters with people we do not know or even care to interact with.
God Sees Into the Heart
Samuel uses a common act of worship to bring Jesse and his sons together. Samuel, remembering his mission, looks at each of Jesse’s sons, noticing their physical stature, strength, and appearance.
In Samuel’s mind, one of those good-looking persons would be the next king of Israel. But God did not choose any of the persons Samuel would have chosen. God says to Samuel, “God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the LORD sees into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
In other words, the situations, and circumstances in which you are living are not the last word on your life or upon your living. Just because you have not perceived it does not mean it is not true or good or hope-filled.
Where is the Presence and Power of God?
So, where is the presence and power of God? Just as God had a mission for Samuel and provided guidance for Samuel, God has a mission for you and sends you on your own life journey. In whatever situation or circumstance, God is with you and is providing for you. You can trust God’s action on your behalf.
Remember, God’s presence and power can and will be found in new, risky, and scary places.
Samuel went through the unfamiliar and encountered strangers to complete what God had called him to do. God was with him all the way helping him carry out what God had planned for Israel’s future.
Inside Your Heart
God’s presence and power are deep inside your heart. It is God’s presence within you that prepares you to enter the new and challenging encounters that lie ahead.
So, what do you do to get the Lord’s presence and power? Well, you do not have to do anything to “get it.” God gives it. David did not say anything at all. In fact, he did not even do anything except show up, “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).
Receive the Gift
God has given you God’s presence and power in and through Jesus. Your response is to receive God’s gift. Just like Samuel, God is with you, providing for you, and guiding you in the mission you have been given. In whatever situation or circumstance, you find yourself, your hope is in the presence and power of God. When God calls, God provides what is needed to live into the call.
Become aware of God’s presence in the situations and circumstances you find yourself in today. Look for God’s presence in the lives of the people you meet today. Take note of how God surprises you. Remember, God has called you into mission, God is with you, and God is providing what you need to be the person and the leader needed for this time.
O God, help me be aware of the people around me today. Help me not only be a blessing to someone but help me experience your love in and through the people I encounter. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear you in every situation and circumstance of the day. I offer myself to you in the name of Jesus, who is your presence and power with me each and every day. Amen.
Consider your thoughts, feelings, and actions from today. How did you experience God’s presence and power today? Who helped you experience God’s love? Where did God surprise you with God’s presence and power? Together, what do your thoughts, feelings, and actions tell you about God’s call upon your life?
So, let me remind you that God is with you in whatever situation or circumstance you find yourself. In fact, God will surprise you in the lives of the people you encounter along the way. It is through God’s presence and power that you find hope for new possibilities.
I am grateful to be with you on this journey of Hope Throughout the Year. May you experience God’s presence and power this week in life-changing ways. And remember, who you are is how you lead.