I’m sure I’m not the only one to pause at the beginning of a new year and survey my life. I experience the week between Christmas and New Year’s as a schedule-free truce zone, sealed off from the demands of regular life. In this uniquely quiet, separated space, I notice areas I want to change; I reflect on the previous year’s victories and mistakes; I devise ways to reach old goals I haven’t attained. Basically, I shove some of the debris off the decks for a new beginning. (I would say I clear the decks, but that’s a pipe dream!)
New beginnings are interesting. Before we interact with a new situation, we are uninvested. Before starting school, for example, we don’t know the faces of friends who will become dear to us, or of enemies who might invade our spirit with intimate cruelty. Before moving to the United States as a child, I saw it as one big, multifaceted mystery. As yet, I had no memories of interaction, unlocking the culture with a thousand communicative ties, so that now I can’t imagine not being part of it. New beginnings see us poised to engage, while Heaven waits with baited breath.
Interacting with our world is essential. We need others, and they need us. The danger is becoming distracted and losing our way. Perhaps that’s what King Solomon had in mind when he wrote that “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). Beginnings are filled with inspiration and hope; but satisfactory endings require steady focus and true grit.
To avoid losing our way, we must remember who we are, why we are here, and where we’re going. “You are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world,” Jesus told his followers in John 15:19. We don’t belong completely to what we see around us. This is easy to forget.
Hebrews 11, the “Faith Hall of Fame,” abounds with examples of saints who kept their focus from beginning to end. “They went about… destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38). They didn’t allow this world’s deceptions to entangle them, but kept to their mission, desiring “a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (v. 16) Jesus himself “gathered up his courage and steeled himself for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51), singularly focused on his destiny to die for the sins of the world.
To remain cognizant of who we are, why we’re here, and where we’re going, we will want to invest in our relationship with our Creator. A schedule-free truce zone needn’t be reserved exclusively for the holiday season. Indeed, we need it every day.
When we connect with God through prayer and the healing ministrations of his Word, we withdraw temporarily from the battlefield of life. We recall our true identity as forgiven, dearly loved children of a beneficent King; our purpose as his yielded channels of hope and love; and our eternal destiny of unbroken fellowship with him. This perspective restores the wounded spirit. It strengthens us to pursue our calling. Most of all, it reminds us that we are never alone: God has promised never to leave us, and to bring us to our satisfactory ending.
“’For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ saith the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
What are some of your goals for 2013?