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I recently watched an interview with Max Lucado on the television program 100 Huntley Street. He told the story of a family who lost their 13 year old daughter, Taylor, in a skiing accident. The doctors asked the parents if they would be willing to donate her organs; she was the ideal candidate because she was young and healthy. The parents consented without hesitation, because they felt that their daughter would want them to. Some time later the parents had the opportunity to meet a nurse named Patricia, the recipient of Taylor’s heart. They asked if they could listen to their daughter’s heart beat one more time, so Patricia provided them with a stethoscope to do just that. They concluded that it was still a good strong heartbeat. Patricia’s weak heart had been replaced with Taylor’s strong heart. As Max told the story, he said that this is a picture of what Christ does for us. When we accept Christ, He replaces our heart with His heart, and we become a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17) When God listens to our heart beat, He hears the heart of His Son.

After the interview Ezekiel 36:26 showed on the screen. This verse is a part of the prophecy regarding the restoration of Israel. God promises to replace the hard heart of Israel with a tender heart, but that prophecy applies just as much to us as it does to them. The hearts of people today are just as hard as they were in the time of Ezekiel, and God is still the same. He wants to fill us with His Spirit and turn our stone-cold hearts into loving, giving, teachable, God-honouring hearts.

God gave this prophecy to Ezekiel to give the Israelites hope, and we can have the same hope. God doesn’t give up on His children. He wants to redeem us, restore us and transform us. He can change our hearts, and He is waiting to change our hearts, but we have to be willing to make the change. Imagine if Patricia had been afraid or unwilling to accept a heart transplant. She would not have known the joy she now has in living with a strong heart. Unlike Patricia, people aren’t always convinced that life would be better with a change of heart. They don’t want to give up what they know for something that they don’t know even if it will be better. God won’t give up on us though. When we are ready, He’ll be there waiting.

Learn more about Taylor's gift here.

I’m not sure how you feel about saying good-bye to 2012, but many people I know are glad to see it go. Several friends lost family members during the year; three lost their moms and another lost her dad. I can only begin to imagine their sadness, and am so thankful that both my parents are still alive and doing well. For those of you have been praying for Bella, I’m happy to tell you that her most recent tests show no evidence of disease, but it was certainly a challenging year for her family, and they were eager to see the end of it. Albert Chretien’s body was found a year and a half after he went missing in the Nevada wilderness. It meant closure for the family but reopened their tender hearts to the sadness.

These are the kinds of things that regularly happen in the broken world we live in, but often at the end of a year we look back with regret, and look toward the new year with hope. I, at least, always hope that the new year will be better than the last. Do we have any justifiable reason to do so? After all, the world we live in will still be broken until Christ returns. The good news: God is in the restoration business. In Joel’s prophecy, we read of God’s judgement, symbolized by a swarm of locusts devastating the land of Judah; they thunder ahead like war horses and they charge like an army of soldiers. (Joel 2: 4, Joel 2:7) But the Lord is willing to show mercy and compassion to those who humbly repent and return to Him. (Joel 2:12-13) Joel 2:25 is even more hopeful. Not only will God stop the attack of the locusts and show mercy to his people, but He will restore what has been destroyed. The story of Job is a prime example of how God does this. Job endured much suffering, lost his entire family and all his belongings, but God restored his health and returned to him double what he had lost. (Job 42:10)

No matter what regrettable things happened to you, or because of you, last year, God is able to make good come of even the worst circumstances. (Romans 8:28) We only need to stop striving to do things solely in our own strength, come humbly to Him and trust Him to take care of us. The devastating things that happened in the past cannot be changed, but the future can be brighter. God has told us that in this world we will have trouble, (John 16:33) but God has also promised us peace (John 14:27) and joy. (John 15:11) As this new year begins, I wish you, my readers, all of God’s best. May you be abundantly blessed.