Have you been able to make the switch from writing 2012 to 2013 on your checks, yet? Or maybe you don’t write checks anymore and do everything online?
Regardless, it wasn’t so long ago that we were training our minds to think in terms of it being 2012. And yet, time passes and once again we are into a new year. It’s filled with potential and hope. And, most certainly, there will be times of joy and times of tears.
There is something deeply spiritual about the idea and the experience of a new year. It invites us to recognize the value of our yesterdays, our todays and our tomorrows.
The events, people and experiences of the past have helped to shape the person we are today. And yet, our pasts can also be an anchor holding us back. This isn’t to suggest that we forget the past, but only that we put the past in proper perspective.
Scripture reminds us to remember many things, such as God’s commands and God’s love, mercy and faithfulness. They are sources of strength and hope for facing the present and the future.
The Apostle Paul challenged us to leave behind those things from our past that hinder us, when he wrote about his own faith journey:
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14, New International Version).”
This year, what may need to be left behind so that you can more fully appreciate the present and the future?
Carpe diem! Seize the day! While I’m not sure how easy this is for you, there is an underlying truth in that phrase that can be a helpful guide. We can seek to live in the present. Two of the great distractions that pull us away from this are worry and fear. This isn’t new to our present age. It has been present throughout history.
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, and Jesus both remind us not to let worry and fear overpower our present lives. In Isaiah 41:10, there are these words of comfort from the Lord:
“So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”
And Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33–34 encourage us to seek to live with an attitude that appreciates the present:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
What worries and fears may be sapping your ability to seek to live and enjoy the present?
A new year, 365 tomorrows. What might be a word of wisdom for our tomorrows? Simply this—let God guide your future.
Here’s a couple promises from Scripture to help us do just that. First, in Jeremiah 29:11:
“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.”
And second, in Psalm 121:7b-8:
“The Lord will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
None of us may know what the coming year will bring. We can be assume there will times of joy and tears, times of accomplishment and times of challenge, times of certainty and times of doubt. Regardless of whether the times are good or bad, we can have hope because we will not face a single moment alone. God has promised us that His presence and love will be there too.
May you find hope and encouragement in this new year because of the promise that God is part of each of our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows.
By Julie Berndt, M.Div., D.Min.
Spiritual Ministries Consultant and Pastor