PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “How To Get a Solid Grace-Framed Agenda for the New Year”. By: Ron Woodrum
I want to begin this perspective with some advice, as I often do, from one of my favorite authors-Frederick Buechner. He writes, ” it is mainly for some clue to where I am going that I search through where I have been, some hint as to who I am becoming or failing to become that I delve into what used to be”. He continues, “There’s alot to love about a New Year. Good food. Celebrating with family and friends. I love the unmarked calendar, the eager anticipation from 365 days of ‘who knows what may hold’. I value the opportunity to both recollect the past year, doing an inventory of sorts, and to anticipate the New Year!” How true! The first day of 2020 is a great opportunity for us to remember and to anticipate. Remembering is a vital practice for a growing spiritual life. Our sense of who we are is really a collection of memories of sort. Press the erase button and we don’t really know who we are anymore. Life and a healthy identity is unimaginable without a vivid memory. Why not find a quiet place today and ask God to walk with you over the year. Revisit the challenges and trials that have made you stronger. Face honestly your bad choices and failures and falls. Learn from them, asking guide to guide your steps around those incidents next year, and give you His strength for the battles you cannot avoid. How have you grown and become more or less like Christ this past year?
But while you are at it, take time to look forward too. A rear-view glance in the mirror is important but you can’t drive forward without looking ahead! I don’t mean resolutions-I think that New Year’s tradition needs a good burial! I think Christians should replace it with New Year’s Anticipation. Anticipation, with remembrance, is as vitally an important spiritual exercise as the other. In the Biblical mind the future Grace of God is always breaking into the present to let God change our lives for the better, for our good, and His Glory. As you face the New Year, if you must resolve, resolve to do less trying to be what God expects you to be, and start trusting and resting in what God has promised to make of our lives, if we will turn them over to Him. The word “promise” comes from the latin word “promittere”. It comes from two words-“pro”- meaning “forth” and “mittere”- meaning “to send”. Prosmises are God’s packages of Grace sent from the future; they are declarations which annnounce the coming of a reality that does not yet exist today! But on the guarantee of God they will! He promises. How would our lives and world be different If God’s promises took shape in the present moment? Where would you like for God’s promises come alive in your life in a new way this New Year? That is what Buechner calls “a solid grace-framed agenda for the coming New Year!”
Let me share a poem by Mary Fairchild called A New Year’s Plan.
“I tried to think of a clever new phrase-
A slogan to inspire the next 365 days,
A motto to live by this coming New Year,
But the catchy words fell flat to my ear.
And then I heard His still small voice
Saying, ‘consider this simple, daily choice:
With each new dawn and close of the day
Make new your resolve to trust and obey.
Don’t look back and be caught in regret
Or dwell on the sorrow of dreams unmet;
Don’t stare forward anchored by fear,
No, live in this moment, for I am here.
I am all you need. Everything I Am.
You are held secure by my strong hand.
Give me this one thing-your all in all;
Into my grace, let yourself fall’.
So, at last I’m ready, I see the way.
It’s to daily follow, trust and obey.
I enter the New Year armed with a plan,
To give Him everything. All That I Am!”