It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone already.
I’m still waiting for my spaceship and robot maid I saw on “The Jetsons” when I was a kid. But I would settle for a hoverboard like Marty McFly’s in “Back to the Future, Part II.” (Not the kind that occasionally burst into flames that sold so well this Christmas.)
Time seems to pass more quickly as we get older. As C.S. Lewis said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
As we look ahead to another year, we wonder what it will hold. I don’t know what the year holds, but I do know who holds the year. I know that God is in control.
This year may bring promise, and it may bring pain. It may bring triumph, and it may bring tragedy. There will be happy days, and there will be sad ones. But I enter into this year like every year: with great hope in God because I know that he is on the throne and is in control of all things, including our lives.
God has a plan – he always has a plan. Sometimes it may not appear that way, but indeed he does. The Bible says that God “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35 NIV)
But there are times when we do say that to God: What are you doing? Are you paying attention?
The answer is yes. He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 NLT). To me it’s a great relief to know that I am not a victim of the fickle finger of fate or dumb luck. I don’t believe in luck; I believe in Providence. I believe that God is in control of my life. I believe that God is sovereign as well.
God says, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. … And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine” (Isaiah 55:8).
We see things from a certain perspective as human beings living in this place called Earth. We see the immediate, where God sees the ultimate. Our world is the here and now. God’s plan is panoramic. He is in control of our lives, leading and guiding us.
But I think it’s a good idea to periodically re-evaluate what we are doing. I think it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, “Is this a wing, or is it a weight? Is it speeding me on my way in the race of life, or is it slowing me down?”
The Bible reminds us to “strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up” (Hebrews 12:1).
What may be a weight to one person may not necessarily be a weight to another. For example, we all have different metabolisms. We all are built differently. Some can eat whatever they want and never gain weight. I admire those people, by the way. But I’m not one of them.
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive” (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV). There is a place for re-evaluation and reflection as we begin a new year.
I also think it’s a good time to reflect on what God has done. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, God instructed them to set up 12 stones from the Jordan as a monument of what God did for them. It is good to think back on what God has done. It is fine to revisit the past. But just don’t live in it.
Jesus gave this warning: “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 11:32). Why would I want to remember Lot’s wife? She and her husband were living in Sodom and Gomorrah, a wicked city. God told them he was going to judge the city, and he sent angels to bring them out of Sodom and Gomorrah. As they were leaving, the angel warned them not to look back. Lot and his children left the city, but Lot’s wife couldn’t resist, and she looked back. It wasn’t just a causal glance. It was a deliberate look. She looked with longing. She couldn’t let go. And the Bible says that she became “a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).
The first step toward going backward is looking backward. We break the power of the past by living for the future. Maybe you’ve been crippled by past failures, past sins. You have your regrets. But more serious than making a mistake is repeating it. Learn from your mistakes and fail forward. Don’t keep doing the same foolish things again and again. Forget them and put them behind you.
Shakespeare wrote that “what’s past is prologue.” A prologue is the beginning of a story. Your story is still being told. My story is still being told. Our story is still being told. You may be in the beginning of your story. You may be in the middle of it. Or, you may be nearing the end of it. But it’s a story God is writing. So let’s not live in the past. There is still more to do.
That is why we must press on, even when it gets hard. There are times when the temptations are strong or the obstacles are great, and you wonder whether you can go on another day. The answer is yes, you can. Press on.
Looking toward the future, the apostle Paul wrote, “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 3:13–14).
Paul is painting a picture of an athlete. Think of a runner in the last lap of the race. He is exerting himself. Every muscle is straining. He can see the ribbon. Pain is wracking his body. He only has a little further to go. He knows it’s better to have a few moments of pain than a lifetime of regret. So he presses on.
That is what we need to do.
I don’t know how you’ve done in this last year. Maybe you’ve stumbled in some way. Maybe you’ve messed up. The good news is that God gives second chances. Make a commitment or recommitment to him.
Taken from my weekly column at Worldnetdaily.
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