Happy new year! It’s January 8, and one of my kids has just gone back to school. The others are easing into the new year, and I’m sipping coffee at my leisure like my Christmas tree isn’t still up.
I blame my husband and his spectacular Christmas gift.
When the coffee’s this good, I must sit down and savor it.
Our Classical Conversations Community doesn’t resume until next week so I have a little time to prepare and plan before we kick off a new semester.
This morning, however, I’m not rushing to start the new things or reflecting on the past. I’m just sitting in the present. The blue sky is studded with fluffy, white clouds. The sun is shining, and once again, a new day has dawned full of new mercies I need.
If I were to sit up straight and take stock of where I’ve been in the last year and where I think I’m going in the next, I’d find the road behind me littered with fear and failures, faith and family, and the road before me stretching toward similar situations as well as new and, as yet, nameless needs.
God’s goodness and grace cover it all.
His mercy extends past my mediocrity. His word is fulfilled regardless of how often I fail to study it. His patience endures when mine runs out. His love lavishes us with joy in pain and peace in times of panic.
And, somehow, he does it every single day.
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:19-23)
In a world of uncertainty, this is something I can cling to, a solid rock surrounded by so much shifting sand.
3 Ways to Start the New Year with Faith
First, I can face the future with faith when I focus on what I know and not on what I don’t. I do not know what my husband’s scan will show at the end of this month, but I know that God is good. I do not know how to cope with constantly rising costs, but I know that Jehovah Jireh will provide. I do not know what my oldest will decide to do about school in the fall, but I know that if we “train up child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
The things I know help me face the things I don’t.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the shirts that say, “Hold on, let me overthink this.” I should probably have one of them. I will often pick apart every conversation I’ve ever had and replay my past on repeat, looking for “what if” or “why,” focusing on my failures and even rewriting my wins.
God’s grace puts the past in proper perspective.
That’s what I need as I reflect on a year (or ten) gone by and consider whether I’ve been obedient and faithful and fruitful.
Because the truth is I have.
And I haven’t.
Without the hope of grace, I can get depressed, weighed down by the fact that I could have, should have, would have done differently…better.
If I look back without faith, I feel finished. I see someone who should not serve, someone…
Someone who, like Peter, should probably board a boat and go back to whatever seems simplest.
“Do you love me?” Jesus asks.
“Lord, you know I love you.”
“Feed my sheep.”
Peter’s call is mine as well. Jesus’s lambs sit around my table every day, and I see others at Walmart several times a week.
Seeing my past through God’s grace puts it in perspective, but it also gives me purpose.
Every day that dawns new dawns with opportunity…
- to see Jesus
- to serve Jesus
- to share Jesus.
As I face the unknown, nameless needs that will greet me as I go forward into this new year, each one can help me to know Jesus better, more deeply, and more closely, and give me opportunities to make Jesus known to a new person or in a new way.
That’s the adventure we’re on, you know. Whichever way the road winds, our destination never changes. We’re headed to Him.
This year, I only hope to bring others along.
How are you approaching the new year?