As we move into the new year, it is of course, almost mandatory to reflect on the old year. Actually although it’s an arbitrary time line, it’s a good one. It is useful for us to see with clarity the opportunity for new challenges, and to let go of old pain.
Paul talks about leaving what’s behind, behind and pressing on to what’s ahead.
As I think on it, the past year has included some significant losses for me.
My five year church plant closed its doors and for the first time in 23 years, I find myself not pastoring a church.
My enduring 3 decade friendship with John Lindenberger was cut short this side of Heaven by his untimely death from leukemia, just this last month.
Both of these things are losses of real grief, the kind of things which you never think you ever will lose and then suddenly have to face their absence. The hole they leave is, regretfully, bigger than their presence itself was acknowledged to be.
These losses, combined with a small scare involving my wife and a mass on her pancreas which turned out to be nothing, have caused me to press in further and deeper to Christ’s plan for my life. Life is not always fun, not always pleasant, but it is always changing, revolving.
This can be either scary or encouraging. It’s scary if you don’t believe these changes are forward movements in the hand of a benevolent omnipotent director. On the other hand, since I do believe this even such significant loss, may have another message. If these things I thought would be with me forever can suddenly not be, what about other things which feel permanent but less pleasantly so. In other words why can not this be the year my financial struggles, something that’s been another staple of my life, pass away. Maybe some of my insecurities, finally do die of starvation. Maybe the little annoyances in my character can actually become something I “grew out of.”
I’m not saying I know they will, but change works in more than one direction, and if there is a Hand at work, a perfect Author behind the script then it could just be time for such a plot change.
If, on the other hand you believe in a cruel God, or no god, only time and chance, then change is only change, neither forward nor hopeful. Today may be good, tomorrow evil. The sun comes up and the sun comes down and ultimately such arbitrary change means no change at all. There is nothing new under the sun, as a wise depressed man on the verge of a breakthrough one said. This perspective leaves us regarding each year as no opportunity at all, each day simply becomes a tedious movement nowhere.
Tonight I feel a nervous energy. It’s familiar to me. It comes in part because I am about to go teach a Hidden Life Conference. It’s an energy which feeds me. It’s an energy which God uses to turn the introvert David in to the conference David. It’s an energy which at its best can be passed on to the hearers bringing them renewed hope and energy for change they also need.
But tonight it’s more than just the conference. It’s the anticipation of conferences for the next three months, booked, ready to go and opportunity for adventure this year. It’s anticipation of a new phase of my life, of real deliberate, hard earned, graciously given change. Of course I’m scared. Scared of failure, of not seeing the changes I want, the changes I need. But I”m also hopeful, optimistic and excited to see what the God of the universe has in mind.
This is the great adventure.
So wish me luck, pray for me, come to a conference, or send me an encouraging message, whatever to you expresses good will and hope. I personally believe the prayers are real when prayed to the God of life, and therefore game changers, but then I also believe encouragement helps too. Thanks to my readers and friends for riding this adventure with me. It’s much better to be in the Fellowship of the ring, than to be Gollum alone in a cave somewhere:-)
Time to saddle up and ride!