Monday, December 15, 2014

OnFire #323 Santa, and Other New Experiences

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #323 Santa, and Other New Experiences

Hi Folks:

We continue to settle in. Our house is looking more like a home, and there are only a few things we have not been able to locate. Mark, our youngest, flies in Friday from Moncton, and we are very excited about his visit. We have a tree up, but we’ll wait until he arrives to decorate. We won’t see Ian this Christmas, but hope to see him in February.

Blessings, and Merry Christmas!

It has been a season full of firsts: first chapel service, first duty calls, first military Christmas events, first “official” prayer with the soldiers, first potluck in a church where I’m not the pastor. Today I’ll have a meeting with the regional minister. It has been exciting and interesting season as we integrate into our new calling.

Last weekend we attended the officers’ family Christmas party (another first) and we were taken back a few years to when Mark and Ian were still young. There were tables to make Christmas decorations and gingerbread cookies, and lots of little children clutching their parents’ pants legs. 

At the right time Santa arrived and everyone got their gifts. It has been a while since we were in that life stage, and I had forgotten that not all children appreciate the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap.  A few cried when they realized they did not know this jolly old man in red and white, at which point their parents retrieved them to stop the crying.

We all knew that they did not need to be afraid of Santa, but they did not. Give it a few years and their feelings will change, but for now this was a scary new experience.

New experiences can be a little scary for all of us. Our new experiences here have not been without their moments, which generally revolve around being afraid of doing the wrong thing in a new setting. For example, we were at the base commander’s open house last week, and I dropped my plate, which landed face down on the floor, of course.  

Fear and new experiences go hand in hand. Some situations are minor, but not all are. Regardless, our fears are very real to us.  No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Woohoo, I get to do something that makes me afraid!”

The good news is that we never do these things alone. Go to and look up “I will be with you” in your favourite version. NIV shows 7 times God speaks to his people to assure them that their new experiences will not overwhelm them.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”  (Isaiah 43:2*)

Don’t forget, also, that “Immanuel” means “God with us.” Jesus came to demonstrate in a very real and practical way that God is with us.

Whatever our new scary things is, we will not be alone. God goes with us. I hope this helps.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis.  Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Dec 15, 2014. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at