New Year, Old Habits
“Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
It is a strange thing to have the new year begin in the dead of winter. Personally, I like the way the ancients did it, who started their year in the spring. I realize our new year marks approximately the time when the days start to lengthen and hence is the time of renewal of the sun. But I don’t worship the sun, and frankly I don’t feel renewed with sub-freezing temperatures and the sun setting at 4:30.
Give me spring, when the sun starts to warm, when the grass turns green, when my vegetables start to grow, and horsehide and wood make contact on the ball diamond. The ancients were right about the time of new beginnings, and indeed the Hebrew calendar and the sacred year attendant to it begin just then.
Nevertheless it is nice to have a benchmark to look back at the past year’s foibles and triumphs and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that stand before us. Like everyone else, I had my share of blessings and trials during the past year, but it is the future to which we will direct our attention here.
The words of Paul ring in our benchmarks of time when he said, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” (Ephesians 4:1) Paul was a prisoner of the Romans when he wrote those words, but like him, we are all prisoners in one sense -- prisoners of the Lord. Or rather, we should be. He will own us, but he will own us only if we let him. As his “prisoners” it behooves us to find out what our “calling” with God is, for each of us indeed has a special calling. We were not created for the 24/7 world of bustle in which we find ourselves, where our service to God is too often preempted by the demands of daily living.
The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land, and it was not because the way was long. They became sidetracked by the frustrations of daily living. They took their eyes off God and focused on the physical limits of their being, and their desert wanderings were forty years of trudging circles in the desert. That’s the way my life feels sometimes, and, no better than the Israelites, I find myself grumbling about my daily predicaments instead of dreaming about what could be.
After Joshua and the next generation of Israelites entered the Promised Land and conquered the giants who stood in their way, Joshua arose before the people and recounted what had transpired during the previous forty years and all that God had done for them. Then he issued them a challenge: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
What is my calling? How can I best serve God? Those are the things to contemplate as we make things new at the beginning of this year. Between now and the real new year that begins in the spring I commit to finding the answers to those two questions."
(Interested in attending public Bible studies, where these and other topics are discussed? In the Kansas City area, call Lenny Cacchio: (816) 520-1743.)