A New Years Message

As one year ends a new one begins, we tend to think of the good and bad things that have happened in the past year. We make and read the best of the year lists and might even make one of our own. We reflect on all the hopes and intentions we have for the New Year. We set resolutions to do or don’t do something to make life easier and more meaningful. This year is no different. 2012 has mere hours left; she has grown old and will soon pass away. We made it past the 21st, no end of the world, no zombie apocalypse. 2013 looms on the horizon.  It lurks, peers at us with cold unfeeling eyes approaches like an animal that is both curious and anxious. What will the 2013 beast hold? What will life in the thirteenth year of the 21st century unfurl?

2012 was a tough and challenging year, for me it was my most challenging year thus far. I know that last year, but it is true. Spiritually, psychologically, physically, and relationally it was a draining year. Challenged through my blog and bible study, I deepened my faith. I grew personally. No growth is easy, but it is always worth the pain. I fell down the stairs in my parent’s house three times, burnt my great toe, and fractured another. At the moment, I am stuck in a walking cast. I crushed on a girl and I got crushed by it. At last, I am over my last relationship. Even with all this said, I end 2012 happy and hopeful for what the future holds for me. It seems possible that 2013 will see me moving to Iowa to begin my theological training to be a pastor. This will last six years. So, yes I am happy and hopeful, I am also nervous and excited, apprehensive and resolute.

As Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing!” Godis doing something new, something special in my life. This something will not only bless and grace me with new life, but will also touch many other lives through my own. Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 writes, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Paul is telling us that the old life where we put our needs first and went after the things we wanted without a care about hurting others is gone. Our old life is done with, Jesus finished the old way on the cross and now the new resurrected life has come and will stretch from this day to the rest of our journey here and now to the next. Our new life in Christ means that we are blessed, graced, and saved to be a holy blessing for others.

God has plans for our life. Too often, when things are not going away, we take back control and do things are way. If we would trust God and let Him guide our ways than we would see the truth of Jeremiah 29:1. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. God loves us as we are, but way too much to leave us that way. God plans to proper us goes beyond monetary gain to becoming the people of the kingdom, which involves loving others and working for this world to be as it is in heaven.

What will 2013 bring?

Will it bring blessings or curse; love or hate; happiness or sorrow?

I think it will be some combination of all the above. I do not want bad things to happen, but they do happen. All we can do is face the future with an open, loving heart and not letting events deter us from loving everyone and stretching towards the best within us. There will be days we struggle more than others and that is why we need to do our spiritual practice on the good days, so we can face the bad days openly and honestly. When the bad things happen and we are tested we will be able to get through it because we have done our practice and have deep trust in Jesus, even in the darkest time, when we are challenged the most we are not alone.

Rabbi Yehuda Berg writes, “Happiness is when we see that the Light is bigger than the challenge. We all know there is no limit to how bad a situation can be, which is why this state of consciousness is a real mountain to climb. But as along, as we keep climbing—by injecting the thought, ‘I’m sure the good is here’—even the worst of the worst can change.”

Happiness as the choice to see the light of God in even the darkest times of life will empower us to live the kind of lives we all want to and know that no matter how bad it gets we will be able to get through it. Henri Nouwen said, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”  C.S. Lewis said, “There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious. It is too good to waste on jokes.” Happiness as a choice and serious can transform our lives and open ourselves to the kind of happiness that can and will last. This choosing happiness and choosing it every day can and will help us face and transcend the darkness that comes into our life.

God never promised us happiness. Jesus said to abide or remain in him, so that when a storm comes and sweeps away all that we assume makes us happy, we will have solid ground to stand on. I have experienced this. We have all experienced this. Something bad happens and because we have Jesus in our heart or know someone—a pastor, friend, or fellow believer—that has Jesus in their heart and modeled Jesus to us than we were able to deal with the dark and move towards the light. Sadness and tragedy can overwhelm us, but that doesn’t mean it will break us. No! I say and know it will make us stronger, more Christ-centered, God-glorifying, humble human beings.

I do believe that 2013 will be great year! I believe it will be my best year and I pray that it will be a great year for you too. Even if it is another tough, challenging year, we can leave it better than when it begins.

My hope for me is that next year, I will have someone to kiss and hold when 2013 becomes 2014.

I pray that the New Year will be one in which I meet God in new and surprising ways. I pray this for me and for you, my dear reader. May 2013 be the year of blessing, gracing, and saving for all.

Grace and Peace

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