it’s a new year. one birthed in snow.
how appropriate to start things off again through the blinding beauty of whiteness.
last night i planned to write a reminiscence on the past year. but i didn’t. and i’m not going to. last year i spent far too much time looking inward, downward and behind me. i want this to be a year of looking outward, upward and ahead.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. — Ephesians 3:13b-16
i spent about 20 minutes at a new year’s eve party last night, and used most of that time to write a letter to myself to be opened in a year. a friend mentioned that “resolutions” is such a strong word. and so it is.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.
Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. — Psalm 73:21-28
i didn’t write down resolutions, strictly speaking. i wrote myself a list of hopes.
i am a born pharisee, with a love for giving myself rules to follow so i can be righteous in my own eyes … but i’m also incredibly lazy about some things. when i make resolutions i tend to go overboard, zealously plotting out a path to perfection in 365 days. some things i’ve sometimes accomplished; most of the time i don’t get much of anywhere.
in thinking about the new year i realized i have no expectations for 2013, in a manner of speaking. there’s no huge big thing lurking on the horizon. no plans to trickle down through the days and color everything in their paths. and in a way that’s comforting — what God wants to bring into my life, He will bring. that’s always the case, but i feel more aware of it this year.
i hope you learned to love like Jesus loves.
i hope you learned to trust.
i hope you learned to be still.
i hope you learned to relax.
i hope you learned to die daily, with joy.
i hope you lived — really lived.
For I, Yahweh your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.” — Isaiah 41:13
He holds my right hand.
life is a beautiful thing, my friends, even in the midst of pain.
in retrospect, maybe especially in the midst of pain.
don’t give up. don’t ever give up. we can all live a life incredible, vivid, excellent, but only because He first lived it for us, and now lives it in us. i’m not some preternaturally happy, naive pollyanna gleefully giddy and wreathed in rainbows. i know that He went through all of this first, before and for me, and will never leave me to live life on my own.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? … Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled …
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised,“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. — Hebrews 12:1-5a; 12-15; 18-29
happy beginnings, my friends. here’s to new things, small and big, accomplished by the grace and in the love of God.