|Just as a sunset marks the end of a day, a sunrise - and a|
new year - mark a new beginning.
The year’s about over. For some it provided fond memories, while leaving others with bittersweet feelings. Still others regard it as, “Good riddance!” They can’t wait for it to end. How was 2017 for you?
Soon another new year will usher in. Some will stay up until midnight or after, watching the huge Times Square New Year’s ball drop at the precise moment, while the rest of us will head to bed early, trusting the celebrated ball will descend successfully without our help. But first, there’s a bit of unfinished business with the current year.
A lot happens over the span of 365 days individually, nationally and globally. During this season when we hear so much about peace on earth and good will toward men, we realize the world remains filled with hate, strife and unrest. Here in the USA, the new President demonstrated a propensity for letting his fingers do the walking (via social media) whether we approved or not. In many respects, the societal divide began resembling the Grand Canyon.
These last moments of the year prompt me to assess how I’ve utilized the gift of each day and opportunities afforded to me. Where have I grown as a person? Have I grown? What mistakes did I make that I can learn from, even well into my seventh decade of life? What goals, long-term and short, did I accomplish – and what building blocks did I put in place for future achievement?
Maybe you ask yourself such questions; maybe not. But even if you do, the time comes for looking forward. Just as trying to drive while staring in the rearview mirror is a slow, and sometimes dangerous, endeavor, so is attempting to live life while clinging to days gone by.
There’s nothing wrong with revisiting the past, cherishing things we wish to remember and seeking to learn from things which would be best forgotten – so we don’t repeat them. Dwelling on the past, however, is usually counterproductive. We can’t change it, much as we can only anticipate the future. What we do have, and can affect, is today, whether it’s the final day of the old year or first day of the new.
That’s why I love the words and wisdom of the apostle Paul, who wrote to fellow followers of Jesus in Philippi, “Not that I have already obtained all this [a life totally dominated by the life of Christ], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…. 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 3:12-14).
As a one-time persecutor of Jesus’ disciples, Paul had much he would have preferred to forget. But recognizing that through Christ he had become a new man, nothing like the religious, anti-Christian zealot he once was, the apostle chose instead to “strain toward what is ahead and press on toward the goal” of becoming more like the One he once opposed.
The same holds for us. We all have regrets, things we wish we could “do-over.” But in Christ, what matters most is not what we’ve done. He’s taken care of all our wrongs: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). What does matter is what we’re going to do with today, along with the days that remain ahead of us.