Tomorrow we turn the page to a new chapter in the chronicles of our pilgrimage from time to eternity. We are still on the stage of life, playing our parts, saying our pieces. We breathe a collective, world-wide, sigh of relief as with little to no regret we bid farewell to the year 2020 that opened up with almost undimmed promise and is being folded up with almost universal pathos. We long for a clean slate, a new start with guarded and guided hopes for the year ahead. An unknown bard expressed our qualms and quivers in his metaphor: “He came to my desk with a quivering lip, the lesson was done— ‘Dear Teacher, I want a new leaf,’ he said, ‘I have spoiled this one.’ In place of the leaf so stained and blotted, I gave him a new one all unspotted, and into his sad eyes smiled— ‘Do better now, my child.’ I went to the throne with a quivering soul, the old year was gone, –‘Dear Father, hast thou a new leaf for me? I have spoiled this one.’ He took the old leaf, stained and blotted, and gave me a new one all unspotted. And into my sad heart smiled—‘Do better now my child.’”
We hope to do better as we step into 2021—each and all. We will strive to meet old, reframed fears with a highly honed hope. We hope to navigate re-swollen streams with renewed and longed for dreams. We hope to turn perennial and personal defeats into permanent and powerful victories. We can affirm through lessons learned in the School of Life Paul’s testimony that “…tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope: and hope maketh not ashamed….” (Romans 5:3-5) Yes, we face the year ahead with a holy hope, grounded and founded upon the “Rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
We face the year ahead with a strengthened faith. Faith tested. Faith tempted. Faith tempered. Faith tried and found true and triumphant in spite of moment by moment battles against natural and spiritual, mental and emotional proving grounds that took us to the ropes where, by the grace of God alone, because of His abundant and abiding mercies, we came back round after round, protected by the shield of faith, covered by the helmet of salvation, enveloped in the breastplate of righteousness, brandishing the sword of the Spirit and in and through and above all, praying with all prayer and supplication, realizing in battle after battle that His strength is ever made perfect in our weakness, so that, yes! we survived what for many was, in 2020, the toughest times of our lives–for our families, our churches and schools and businesses and for our national and international body politic. The world still stands, and we have been reminded, by the promise of the rainbow and through the passages of the Revelation that the world will stand until that angel that John the Apostle saw in his Patmos vision will stand upon the earth with his hand lifted toward heaven, to sware by Him who created the earth…who created the heavens and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that time should be no longer. (Rev. 10:5,6) We face 2021 with the confidence that, as of this moment, God is not yet ready to roll up the heavens as a scroll to begin his final judgement upon His universally rebellious creation. Yes, we do have faith!
We face the New Year, too, with love. “And the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13). Love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Love which covers a multitude of sins. Love which is without prejudice or partiality but from the heart of God flows freely to the whole world and may be appropriated by anyone anywhere at anytime by simply receiving the gift of God: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
So, faith, hope, love, an unparalleled formula for a day, a month, a year ahead.
“Another year, I enter, it’s history unknown. Oh, how my feet would tremble, to tread its paths alone! But I have heard a whisper, I know I shall be blest: ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’ What will the New Year bring me? I may not, must not know. Will it be love and rapture, or lowliness and woe? Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper; I surely shall be blest: ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’” (Unknown)
“We can all start afresh! However far we have ascended, there is something higher; and however far we have fallen, it is always possible to make a fresh start. We need to take our place in the School of Christ and be taught by Him.” Eph. 4:20,21 (F.B. Meyer)