New Year’s Letter 2012
‘For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice’ — Zechariah 4:10a (ESV).
When a new year approaches I often attempt to choose a verse that might be particularly relevant for the coming year. This year I am drawn to Zechariah 4:10 – a verse that is often translated with a question: ‘Who has despised the day of small things?’ But the English Standard Version puts it as a positive promise to those who have seen mostly small things but not great things. It is a very encouraging word.
Almost wherever I travel in the world people ask me, ‘What is God doing in the church today?’ It is not a question I welcome because my honest answer does not please many people: ‘Not a lot’. I wish it weren’t so, that I could instead say: ‘God is mightily at work all over the world today’. And perhaps He is in certain places. I would not question that. All I know is, there does not seem to be much evidence of His manifest presence and extraordinary blessing in the places I myself have visited: in the USA from Maine to Washington; in Canada; Great Britain, the Middle East, South Africa and Australia. This is not to say I have not been thrilled many times in various places. But I still long to see not merely a revived church but the community outside the church shaken – truly shaken and stirred, as in the days of Jonathan Edwards that saw the New England Awakening (1735-1750), the Cane Ridge Revival (1802) or the Welsh Revival (1904). I live for this phenomenon, what I have often called the ‘coming of Isaac’.
I would like to claim Zechariah 4:10 – that ‘whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice’. Despising the day of small things partly means not being content with so little happening but with hearts aching to see God do extraordinary things. Surely all are agreed we are in desperate days – spiritually, morally, politically and financially. One would hope these times should create such an outrage that the church will be driven to its knees to plead with God to step in. All I can say is, if we are not outraged and driven to tears soon, it will mean far worse things to take place that will at long last get our attention.
Louise and I have much to thank God for as we reflect upon the preceding year – the hardest we have known in 53 years of marriage insofar as physical health goes. Louise broke her back last January 13 and was in unceasing pain until her successful operation in April. I myself have had three operations in 2011: skin cancer on my right ear; rotator cuff surgery on my right shoulder and cataract surgery. These things said, all is much brighter as we enter into 2012 – to the praise of God.
God continues to open doors for me – both in traveling and in writing. 2011 was by far the busiest year I have ever known. How grateful I am that at the age of 76 I receive invitations from all over the world. We had four books published in 2011: Sermon on the Mount (Baker); Why Jesus Died (Monarch UK; my exposition of Isaiah 53) and The Power of Humility (Charisma; please read the Preface before you think I feel qualified to write on this!) and The Scandal of Being a Christian (Hodder UK), which comes out by Baker in the USA this year called Unashamed to Bear His Name. I have just finished writing Totally Forgiving God, due out in Britain and USA this year, and am now writing a book on Elijah that will come out this year or next. Please pray that God will bless these books by changing lives and giving them ready acceptance and wide distribution.
The highlight of the year was the marriage of our daughter Melissa to Rex Tabb, a lovely man who has grown up here in Hendersonville, Tennessee. It was a quiet ceremony in our back garden overlooking Hickory Lake. Rex has not only been accepted by all the Kendall family but our two year old grandson Toby shouted out in the ceremony, ‘Hi Rex’.
God bless you all. Thank you for reading this letter and thank you most of all for your prayers.
Warmest greetings and best wishes for 2012.
R. T. Kendall – Romans 8:28.