The New Year is a solemn time. So solemn, in fact, that I don’t mind telling you that, for me at least, it is a time of deep reflection. It is a time in which I look to the past, its successes and failures, and then to the future with all of its possibilities – both good and bad.
We all do that to some extent, don’t we? On New Year’s Eve, many of us reflect upon those things past and how some of them may have changed our lives forever. We remember the people, the joys, the fears, the tragedies, the triumphs, and finally, the tears over circumstances of a year gone by.
The New Year, then, seems to have become a national day of reflection – a time in which men and women, at least the ones I know, simultaneously remember the past while seeking a fresh start to the coming New Year. We hope for a clean slate and a fresh start – the kind so succinctly communicated to us by an elementary school teacher in the following poem.
“He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done.
‘Have you a new sheet for me, dear teacher? I’ve spoiled this one.’
I took his sheet, all soiled and blotted
And gave him a new one all unspotted.
And into his tired heart I cried,
‘Do better now, my child.’
I went to the throne with a trembling heart,
The day was done.
‘Have you a new day for me, dear Master?
I’ve spoiled this one.’
He took my day, all soiled and blotted
And gave me a new one all unspotted.
And into my tired heart he cried,
‘Do better now, my child.’” (Can Man Live Without God,173)
I don’t like to quote such lengthy portions in this column, but the possibility of hope, forgiveness, and renewal are there for the most “soiled and blotted” of us. In fact, Christ alone specializes in such lives. He takes those whose lives have been soiled by sin, doubt, and the circumstances of life that, in hindsight and without his intervention, would have destroyed us. He changes us at the foundational level, at the heart, and graces us with his actual, not necessarily his felt, presence (…For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee Hebrews 13:5).
Finally, the New Year is a time in which we look to the future, or at least try to, but given the current state of the Union, and the world, the future is filled with uncertainty and fear.
Hoping for a “good” new year, we are all realistic enough to realize that it cannot be guaranteed. Our world isn’t exactly a “peace-haven,” you know, but, instead, a fallen world filled with fallen people who have no problem working that fallenness out in the grind of daily life – just like the Bible tells us. As one man so wisely noted, the depravity of man, while one of the most denied of biblical truths, still remains the most provable.
We face the threats from without from countries like Iran and N. Korea on the brink of possessing nuclear weapons and the continued threat of terrorism. We face our own internal threats as we stand, at least as of the writing of this column, on the precipice of the “fiscal cliff” to which our “representatives” have lead us, and the continued deterioration of those virtues upon which our nation once emerged and stood – virtues founded upon the existence of God generally, and the Judeo-Christian God particularly.
We suffer, then, from the “wolves at the door,” those outward dangers, as well as the damaging reality of “termites in the floor,” those internal threats to our well-being as analogously noted by Os Guinness in reference to the deterioration of America’s virtue based freedom.
In light of such uncertainties and fears associated with such a world, then, I give you the words of King George VI, as noted by Winston Churchill in the dark days after World War 2, “I said to the man at the Gate of the Year, ‘Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown.’ He said to me, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand in the hand of God, and it shall be to you better than the light, and safer than the known’” (Can Man Live Without God, p 53).
Fitting words, aren’t they?
Not knowing what the coming year holds, the best advice I can give anyone is to “put your hand in the hand of God,” and walk into the dark unknown, because while we do not know what tomorrow holds, we do know who holds tomorrow.
Suffice it to say that while the world foolishly spurns the Christ of hope, He still stands available to “whosoever will.” He still declares his burden light and beckons those who will hear, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).
I invite each of my readers, then, to “put your hand in the hand of God,” in Christ alone, of course, “and it shall be to you better than the light, and safer than the known.”
Happy New Year!