Today is December 31, 2016. New Year’s Eve. Last post of 2016.
“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Toodle-oo – Informal. goodbye; so long. Sometimes shortened to “Toodles!” We will happily bid “toodle-oo” to 2016 tonight.
Besides being New Year’s Eve, today is also Make Up Your Mind Day. I think that’s fitting, since I, personally need to make up my mind about several things. For example, I will complete four different devotional books this morning. I need to make up my mind which ones to begin tomorrow. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning to decide that. Many people will make up their minds about resolutions today. Good luck with that. And, if you doubt the necessity of making up your mind, just remember this horribly over-used cliche: “Not to decide is to decide.” Ugh.
As already stated (twice, I think), today is New Year’s Eve. I suppose the celebrations are already underway down under. Some celebrations may have already begun in the States. Who knows? It’s not even 10:00 AM yet, as I write this, but some people don’t need much inspiration to “celebrate” (read that as “get drunk”). Personally, I need more coffee. I’ll be right back.
Thanks for waiting.
I mentioned resolutions, above. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions any more. I stopped doing that years ago. I think they’re silly. I do, however, have some goals. What’s the difference? Resolutions are like impulsive promises. We make them, and then a month down the road, we’re all, “What was I thinking??” Goals are just that. Something to strive for. If I meet them, good. If I don’t, I haven’t necessarily failed. But the point is, I haven’t “broken” anything.
My goals for 2017 are a combination of physical and spiritual. In the physical realm, I do hope to lose some serious weight. I need to be healthier in diet and movement. I also hope to practice more on trombone and keys, and, hopefully, get my guitar-playing skills back up to snuff. Spiritually, I want to seriously hit the spiritual disciplines hard in the next year. Spiritual formation; the classical disciplines, and maybe some that aren’t so “classical.” I need to work on some much more than others. As someone who has spent a large part of his life involved in worship, I seem to have lost my way a little bit in that area. So worship needs to be stepped up. Meditation and contemplation need work; chewing on the Scriptures that I read each day. Confession . . . perhaps I need to find a group of guys that I trust enough to form a confessional group. Silence and solitude . . . who has time for those, any more, right? But we need them in our lives. How can we listen to God if we can’t be alone and quiet? Bible study . . . I have to somehow carve out time in my life for more of this. I’m great on devotion, but light on actual study. And the church we attend doesn’t do “Sunday School” or any incarnation of that organization. Compassion and humility . . . moving right along . . . Various forms of prayer, and last, but certainly not least, fasting, a discipline that has been all but lost in contemporary Christianity. So I have a lot of work to do, next year. The important thing is to realize that it all doesn’t have to happen tomorrow. There are 365 days to do this. Of course, I had better not wait until December to begin, either.
56 days until the first Spring Training game.
93 days until Opening Day.
Psa 55:16-17 But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.
Psa 70:1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!
Psa 65:4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!
Psa 103:20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
(From Praying With the Psalms)
Psa 150 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!
“The Psalter concludes in a connonade of praise: booming salvos of joy shake the air with ‘artful thunder’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Merlin’). Every means (eight instruments are listed) is put to use for the great end. Every creature is enlisted as a voice in the climactic chorus.”
“‘Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever’ (Ephesians 3:20-21, Jerusalem Bible). Amen.”
(From My Utmost For His Highest)
Isa 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
“At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.” I can think of no other year that this is more true than 2016. If we ponder for too long the sorrows and anxieties of 2016, we may not enjoy God’s grace as much as we should. Nevertheless, the Lord allows our memories “to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future.”
“The Lord will go before you,” Isaiah 52:12 promises. He will also be our rear guard, which, in human physical terms, is impossible, isn’t it? But nothing is impossible with God. He surrounds us with his great love and grace, and watches over us from the future and the past.
What this does is give us the ability (if we trust in the grace of God) to focus on the present, on that day we call “today.” Chambers finishes the year with this:
As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.
Father, let me take these words to heart as I look toward tomorrow and the next 365 days. As I have been praying privately for several weeks, now, I ask you to help me make 2017 the best spiritual year of my life, so far. Help me to be faithful to work the disciplines, so that I might place myself in position to be mightily used by you. Help me to achieve the goals that I set, not for personal gain or boastfulness, but so that your great name might be glorified in all things.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.