Sitting here by the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I realize that 2011 is nearly gone and 2012 is one day away. The days of when I will stay up until the New Year rings in are long gone. I don’t get the point of a ball dropping having anything to do with a new year, nor do I appreciate the way the televised approach brings it in. I have much better, sweeter memories of how it was done, and nothing can match those!
We would all head out to church in Manaus, Brasil, where I grew up. People showed up from all over to enjoy the last few hours of the old year together. Games were played, tables were laden down, nearly sagging under the weight of delicious treats and heavenly pound cakes – the smells were intense, causing your mouth to salivate in anticipation of the tastes ahead! Sometimes, we would take our brass instruments and play together. Near the midnight hour, all festivities would quiet down as we all gathered to pray in the New Year. Yes, PRAY!!! To this day, I think that will always be the best way for the New Year to enter!
Many people are drinking it in, some won’t remember it in the morning anyhow, others are waiting to kiss it in, not really caring who they kiss, and some not knowing whose bed they’ll awaken in. But for me, one New Year’s Eve in particular will remain in my mind forever.
We were at the church in Gloria and when it was time to pray, we all knelt down and anyone who wanted to would pray. This time, a life-altering event occurred for my young soul. He began to pray, nothing out of the ordinary at first, one of our first Bible School students. His name was Manuel. Gradually, the presence of the Holy Spirit came over him and he began to pray like no one I had ever heard before! As he prayed, he wept. As he prayed, I watched as his tears streamed down his faced and form a puddle on the floor by his knees. His nose began to run, and I don’t think he even knew where he was, as he welcomed Christ the Lord to bring a new year to his life and to live the new year in whatever way God saw fit. It felt like the earth moved, that the building shook, but I imagine it was all still and that the power just was felt. THAT was POWERFUL! In all of these years, I have never forgotten.
When we went home that morning, I remember how our family stood in the side yard by our house and looked up at the stars in the dark sky, listening to the leaves on the trees rustle, breathing in the tropical air. We got our horns out and played a little together, too. We didn’t want it to end.
31While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence.
Do you recognize the man who prayed? Manuel? We have been praying for him over the last year, as he has a brain tumor and needs an operation. He still has not been through surgery, the tumor continues to take away more and more of his sight. But more than anything, Manuel needs a healing of the soul. He is the same man who prayed that New Year’s Eve long ago, yet today he lives a very different life. We were privileged to visit him in September, to remind him of that New Year’s Eve so long ago, and to remind him of what it was like to serve the Lord. We prayed with him that time, shedding many, many tears together and I was able to tell him how his prayer that night set a determination in me to live for Christ! My prayer is that this man who loved God so much in his youth will one day soon, not only get his surgery, but receive the forgiveness of the One who made the ground shake that New Year’s Eve, so long ago.
My favorite, by far, ever. Happy New Year, everyone! Live it for God.