We are just hours away from welcoming in the New Year – 2014. As a family, we either host a New Year’s Party with family and friends or we are invited to attend a party at a friends house. Either way, everyone brings a covered dish, dessert, favorite snack and a 2 liter. There will be enough snacks to munch on into the midnight hour. We usually start the party at 8:00. We play group games, watch football, pass the time sharing what we all got for Christmas, give reports on the health of a grandparent, talk about when someone’s baby is due, and wonder if anyone received Christmas cards from old time friends that moved out of state a few years ago. I mean there is so much to chat about and jokes to laugh about until the magic hour. Around 11:50, if the television isn’t on time square, someone grabs the remote and turns the channel to the best coverage of the big ball.
A few years ago, I was checking on line to find out how other countries celebrate the New Year. I don’t remember the countries specifically, but in one country, people climb up on the furniture and when the clock strikes midnight, they jump off chairs or couchs. In another country, I read that people run outside and bang on pans to celebrate this special moment. So, I guess it was 5 years ago, when we had a house full of our children, grandchildren and friends, I told them that we were going to add a new tradition to our celebration. I got pots and pans out of the kitchen and passed them around the room, along with a spoon to bang the pans. I asked the willing and able body people to climb on chairs or on the couch. We watched the TV and when the clock struck midnight and the big ball started to descend, we all shouted, “Happy New Year”, jumped off the chairs, ran out side and started banging our pots and pans for 1-2 minutes. What laughter, what craziness, but what fun memories to make with our family. After we ran back into the house, we gave New Year hugs and kisses to our loved ones.
Now friends, the symbolism to that silliness if you didn’t catch it, is this: “Jump into the New Year with a bang”! Yes, and that is what we should do in approaching a new year, new opportunities, endless dreams and possibilities. Maybe some of you would prefer the mental “Jumping into the New Year with a bang” rather than physically doing this activity, but maybe the time has come in your life that you should start thinking and doing things “outside the box”. I do mean for us to be “Christ-like” in that description, but when you think about Christ and all you can do, remember, we can’t put God in a box. A New Year challenge should nudge us to do something for God, that will bring joy to our souls with no regrets.
Well, back to the party. After we hear everyone in the room, repeating, “Happy New Year”, and calmness starts to filter through the room, some of the family and friends, start picking up their items and getting ready to leave for home. Others, munch on the leftovers and some start the clean up process. About 1:00am or 2:00, it is bedtime. Usually, you hear ones announce that they are going to sleep in and would love to sleep until noon.
Jan 1 -mid morning – everyone is awake and pouring cups of coffee – and then reality hits: it’s a new year. We now have 365 days of future before us. What will take place during these days for ourselves, family, friends and America? If you are like me, several things flood your mind at once: job, finances, school, church, responsibilities, health, elderly grandparents and on and on goes the list of the unknown.
Sometimes I have thought, life was better back when… or in this New Year, I need to accomplish this… When I think these thoughts, my mind goes back to a couple of illustrations that two men, from different generations, said that really give great insight and wisdom as we face each new year.
The first one is from an evangelist friend Ron and his dear sweet wife Carol. He traveled and spoke to young people at various rallies across the country. They live in Ohio and they had a meeting in Georgia a few years ago. They called us and said they had an extra day and would like to visit us here in Northern Florida. We were so excited to see and visit with them. My husband and Ron were talking about our previous ministry and all of the great times from the past. They told story after story. Then my husband made a serious comment about how great it would be to go back in time, and live that period of our life again. Our dear friend Ron told us, that life is a journey and a trip we must take going forward. He said it is like traveling in a car and there is the rearview mirror for us to glance back and see what we have passed, but the mirror is small because we are just to glance and not stay focused on the past. He said, now the windshield is big. It is for us to see what we need to focus on . Ron went on to say, “We are made to go forward. Travel onward focus on all that God has for you and press on.” Wow! That illustration has helped us so much in our lives, striving to concentrate on the positive that is before us.
Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”
My second encouragement came when I was invited to speak at a Mother-Daughter banquet in Maryland this past March. After I spoke that Saturday, I was invited to stay over and attend church the next morning before flying back home that Sunday afternoon. Joe is the Pastor and he is also the youth leader. His wife, Heather invited me to sit in with her in the teen department, where Joe would be speaking. I am not sure what the Bible reference was, but one of his points was encouraging the youth to spend a few minutes every day, reading the Bible. Some of the youth, testified that they did have a quiet time with God. Some had their special time in the morning, while most of them had it before they went to bed. There were some that confessed that they didn’t read their Bible at all. Joe gave the following illustration that has stuck with me, when I have been striving for certain things in my life. He said whatever challenge you face, whether it is reading your Bible, or trying to be nice to a sibling or friend, try 5-10 minutes every day working on accomplishing that goal. For instance, it maybe that you need to exercise, so he suggested that if a person take 5-10 minutes a day in exercising, the first time is not going to make a person fit and trim; but if they remain consistent and exercise every day, they will increase the minutes of workout and days, or weeks ahead, they will start seeing results. It is the same with whatever they strive to accomplish. Joe encouraged the youth to start having a special time of reading and praying. He said that they may not see immediate results in being a better Christian, but if they are consistent with their time with God, they will draw closer to Him and will seek Him more in their daily life. He went on to tell them not to get discouraged if they forget a day, but to get back at it and focus on their goal: spending quiet time with God.
Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
I was so blessed by that illustration. Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be: You are in control. You are the one to make the choices for yourself whatever they may be. You decide what you want in life. Yes, we have a New Year. Yes, 365 brand new days. Every day is a new day!!! We have no promise of tomorrow, so make each day that God blesses you with, the best day ever! Oh, we know that there may be some days that we will end up living hour by hour. Other days may be so tough that we have to take them moment by moment, but do your best in each moment you have to live.
You and I know that in light of eternity, what difference will it make as to who wins the argument, who gets in line first, who gets to eat the last piece of pizza, or dress you didn’t have the money to buy etc. Make the right choices and don’t quit if you break that resolution. Take control of your circumstances rather than letting your circumstances take control of you. Be all you can be in every moment and enjoy life, because we only have one life to live.
Enjoy God and have a happy, joyful, life changing experience in 2014.
Happy New Year!!!!!! God bless!