Saturday, December 31, 2016
January of 2016 rolled out of its fresh hay much differently than December of that same year tucked itself away forever to sleep, the stuff of memories alone. Just goes to highlight the ancient truth:
James 4:14 “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
In the life of this middle aged woman, the wind blew warm from the south as the year 2016 began, never letting on that there would be a hurricane lasting from spring to fall, followed by the uncertainty of an unforcastable winter. Surely, living is fraught with unforeseeable outcomes. And the very fact that I used the word “fraught” uncovers the pessimist in me, that girl with the half empty glass. One man’s “unforseeable outcome” is another man’s wild adventure. As much as I would love to be the metaphorical Magellan of the baby boom generation, alas I admit to being more the “bundled up in a blanket with a good book” sort, a reluctant pilgrim with the love of Christ pressing me onward through the fray.
If the wind hadn’t blow hard, I fear I would have become a spiritual couch potato, too easily satisfied, puffy with superficial religion. I don’t like storms, but they batter the rocky coasts of our lazy, half conscious souls. They wake us up (harshly, but with the kindness of a shot of narcan to a heroin addict). Each year has a story to tell. We wish for easy ones, God crafts good ones. Good, as He defines good. Lasting good. Good that takes patience.
Adventure (if you want to call it that), challenge, an unpredictable road - these I have known well across the waters of 2016. If I’ve learned anything from this 365 days “at sea”, it’s simply been more of what has been abundantly clear for a long time now - I’m not in control, God is, and best policy is to sidle close to Him as we roll over the waves of our days.
I don’t think New Year’s resolutions are a bad idea, it’s just that they’ve never worked for me. I gave up resolving years ago. Precisely because if I’ve gleaned anything from the fickle nature of our pass across the human landscape it is this: flexibility has to be maintained so the boat doesn’t break apart in the storm. The only rule that applies (admittedly a 2 part rule) is to hear the voice of God and do it. Some days He says “Be still and know that I am God.” Other days he says “Run with endurance the race marked out for you”. Both are true, all the time…but in the practical day to day of a year's orbit around the sun, it takes listening and doing to find our way.
So if I had “resolutions” for the new year, I guess they would be listen and live it. Listening comes first, and should be emphasized more. Most of us followers of The Way get ourselves bolloxed up with doing this and that “for God” without really knowing Him for himself, and what the heck He wants us to do after all. And really, what He most wants are not our works, but our selves. That’s the whole point of the years and days and seasons we’re living anyway. This cosmic relationship thing is the point of it all. Every calm, every storm, every providential happening in the life of one of His own is a funnel to The Great Heart of Love. All the unpredictability is completely predictable to Him, who “works all things together for the good of those who love Him…”
So if 2016 was a whirlwind, look at it in the light of eternity and give thanks. Not for the pain, but for the process. Perhaps 2017 will be a mild year. Then again, maybe not. Regardless, before you know it it will be one for the books. Listen and live it. Most of all, love like there’s no tomorrow. Because you “are a mist that appears for a little while…”
Your friend on the pilgrim road,