A New Year Before Us

 

A New Year Before Us

Each year when January arrives, I am reminded that another year is past and one more year is before us. As the years come and go, this yearly milestone reminds us that time passes by and will not be seen again. The past, with its problems and trials and crises, is gone. The future, with its opportunities and possibilities, presents itself once again.

Many of us have found that last year was particularly challenging. Multiplied thousands of people lost their jobs, savings dwindled, terrorism in different parts of the world continued, and personal and national debt has astronomically increased. I’ve been touched by the death of various ones. Two of the men who led in our wedding several years ago died—one from a brain tumor and the other from a tragic front-end collision. Others have also departed this life. But the past is gone and only remains in our memory.

The future is before us. God may provide opportunities for service, deepened relationships, and the solution of financial problems. He may provide a new child, new job or advancement, a new house, or a new location. He may bring much-needed healing and better health. The Lord may open up clearer understandings of Biblical truth and the prospect of sharing saving truth with others. The possibilities are endless.

But we must look at the past and the future in light of God’s word and will. Paul wrote, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Although Paul could enumerate his past achievements for the Lord (cf. vv. 4-6; 2 Corinthians 11:22-29), he chose not to dwell on the past. He was running the race of life and chose to look forward to the goal. He reached forward to the “prize” at the end of the race. This ultimate goal of his life in Christ dominated his thinking and acting.

The same perspective must be ours as well. Do we refuse to be loaded down with forgiven sins of the past? Are we captive to the accomplishments of last year? Or do we diligently run the race of life for Christ each day and earnestly look forward to the reward at the end of life? Are we consumed with working diligently for the Lord today so that the past will be blessed and the future an exciting prospect?

I often list the goals that I would like to see fulfilled in the coming year. I think this is a good practice, and I highly commend it for the disciple of Christ, for it helps us to focus on the many things that we would like to do for God and the areas in which we need God’s help. But we must always remember that God may have other plans for us. The two friends I mentioned earlier didn’t plan to die. One had somewhat of a forewarning with deteriorated health, but the other died instantaneously and without any warning at all. Our future is in God’s hands. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

James tells us that it is fine and proper to plan for the future, but these plans are entirely subject to God’s own plans and approval. He writes, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). We really don’t know what the year may bring. We don’t even know what next week or tomorrow or the next hour may bring! We are here for merely a “little while” in comparison to eternity. James continues, “Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (v. 15). We must always remember the words of the psalmist: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15).

This year, let’s resolve to trust the Lord, for He is trustworthy. Let’s worship and pray more, for the Lord is worthy of our praise and devotion. Let’s work for the Lord tirelessly, for “in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9). Let’s love people more, for all that we do should be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14). Let’s be less tied to material things, for we are to focus on those things which are eternal and unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18).

A new year is before us and we’ll have only one opportunity to use it. Let’s use it well—and for the glory of God!

Richard Hollerman

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