Dear Friends and Family,
I want to wish, to each one of you who love the Lord, His richest blessings as this New year begins. Better said - I want to wish that we each experience what He has already given us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). I am currently alone on day one of 2018, as RuthAnn has remained in the US to visit her mother and father and Abbie is away with friends. Our son, Jared is here for a winter visit, but he too is gone to be with friends. You would hardly know it's a holiday looking at my dog, He's laying in the same spot in the yard as he was yesterday. For me, the quietness of the house provides the occasion for deeper reflection on the things that matter most.
It is interesting, the role that calendars play on New Years, isn't it? Certain assumptions seem embedded in their distribution. Hopes run high for the new year and we generally receive them happily - at the bank, in the grocery store. Even in churches. Here in Italy we are 6 hours ahead of you all and I have already been given 2 of them. The lady who stuffed one into my grocery bag late yesterday evening smiled and said, "Congratulations! You've been given another year!" A well-intentioned sentiment, no doubt. But I want to pass on to you a different kind of sentiment.
May the Lord return this year. This is the great collective wish of all who love Him.
But if He doesn't, may we all be found full of faith - 'actively' waiting for His return.
The waiting, the labor, the perseverance - and yes, sometimes even the suffering - will prove to have been worth it.
So, I wish for all of us, that our faith may prove to be of the same substance as the Apostle Paul's:
"For this reason, even though I suffer as I do, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." 2 Tim.1:12
And I wish, as to our practice, that it might be tempered with the same view of time that Moses had as he led God's people through the desert:
"Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Ps. 90:12)
The lady at the check-out surely meant well. But I can't say I've been given another year. Neither can you. We have not been promised that. But if you are reading this, you HAVE been given this day as a gift with which you can honor God. Yes! HONOR GOD TODAY! With your decisions, your wealth, your motives, your labors. This is wisdom. And I pray for us all that this mindset, and this practice, will be our pattern for however many days the Lord chooses to grant us according to His calendar.
God's calendar is different from what is placed in our grocery bags, you know. There is grace and mercy to be found on every 'page' that we live for Him. And it is sufficient - to temper us in our victories, sustain us in our failures, to bind our wounds, and presently, to guide us Home.
With love and affection for each of you.