Though perhaps just a date on the calendar, each new year nonetheless brings both an invitation to reflect on the days behind as well as to explore the promise of the days ahead. How is it that we examine the course of events, the successes and failures of the year behind? And for that matter, what determines what is yet to come? The lens that we view this through is essential, as only one offers both freedom and assurance for our lives.
But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? James 1:24
My mom was a perpetual optimistic. Certainly not because life had gifted her financially, or that everything in her life was in perfect symbiosis. But rather, she drew her optimism from a deep well, her trust in God. Her hope lay not that she would be given everything she may have wanted but that she would have everything that she needed. Moreover, she fully realized that while so much of life was beyond her control she knew the One who was.
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:2-5
Not overcome..those two words really capture her life and that of so many of us in our walk of faith. For it isn’t that once we seek to follow Christ that we cease to experience sorrow or challenges. But when we do, we are given in Christ the strength and hope that he who overcame death will be with us in our greatest need. And against the backdrop of evil at work in the world, that light meets the darkness beginning quite often within us.
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become” CS Lewis
These new beginnings while sometimes seemingly small require a daily re-commitment and dependence not on ourselves but on Christ alone. That is where so many of us go so wrong in making new resolutions for the year to come. While there is a part we play in our yes to God’s plan for our lives, we fool ourselves into thinking that the success or failure lays solely in our ability to follow through. For, God’s promise to us means far more than our prosperity in this world, or on a self-generating professed faith. If that were true than we would no longer need grace, or God’s guidance as we would see ourselves captains of our own ships in life.
Instead our hope must rest in our becoming who God created us to be and in what is trusted but remains unseen. We recognize it in those we encounter who the world might not measure up or deem successful who live faithfully, generously and intentionally with purpose. And, in them we see the light and life that is available to us all. If only we are willing to enter in to the new year with trust in what God has in store.
Is there a new beginning needed in my life today? Where does my self worth and success lie? What keeps me from trusting?