Saturday, April 23, 2011

A New Year, A Fresh Start

Published in Challenge Weekly 2011

I love New Years. Genesis 1:14 tells us that the marking of seasons, months and years is part of God's creation. I love the start of a new year because I can take stock, reflect over the year that has gone, and start afresh. It is kind of like a new birth, a resurrection. I love the rhythm of a holiday over summer in which I can laze on the beach, go for a walk, read a few good books, and forget the challenges that are about to restart. I can reflect on 2010, the good, the bad and ugly, close the chapter 2010, and open the chapter, 2011.

New Years are great times to come to God in reflection, examine our lives, and consider where we can grow. In 2010 I had some of the greatest highs and lows I have experienced. I got to see the cities of Paul in Europe, I published a book, my wife and I brought our first home, and my kids did amazing things. I also suffered a terrible disappointment which I have struggled to overcome. After a nice break, I can now close that chapter and open a new one.

As I head into 2011, I am pondering how God would want me to live. I think he would want me to spend more time with him, walking in relationship with him as did Adam and Eve in the garden before the Fall and as did Enoch. I think he would want me, like Paul, not to live in the glories and pain of the past but to press on, not held back, but stretching for the goal of eternal life. I think he would want me to live out of faith, hope and love. This means living in radical trust and dependence on him. It means facing whatever struggles I will have with hope given by the Spirit, and the knowledge of God's love and control. This means never-failing optimism, no matter how bad it seems. It means above all, loving others, forgiving them and serving. He would want me to live the pattern of the cross, living selflesslessy, sacrificially, and humbly using everything I have to serve him and others with all my being. He would want me to take up my towel and my cross, and follow him.

The details are really secondary. Sometimes we are so hung up on working out what we should be doing, that we forget to seize the opportunity before us. That to me is the message of the Samaritan parable. The two Jewish religious leaders were totally preoccupied with what they had to do and missed stopping to help the injured man. The Samaritan, an enemy of the injured man, stopped and despite the danger and sacrifice, helped the man, saving him from certain death. I think that is what God would want us to do in 2010. Go deeper!

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