Well, the Christmas season has come and gone. It’s time to usher in a new year, and the number of times we will all exclaim “I can’t believe it’s about to be 2017!” cannot be overestimated.
What happens after all the wrapping paper is cleaned up and the twinkle lights are turned off? We shift our eyes towards the new year and the “fresh start” that it promises us. The anticipation of what could be to come brings with it a number of mixed emotions and the thrill (or terror) of coming up with “resolutions” for what we want the new year to be like.
This time of year requires some reflection time on our part. It requires looking back at the year and evaluating what was good and what was challenging. And, it requires some looking ahead, considering what might be to come.
This is where I find myself getting tripped up. I end up focusing on so many of the wrong things. As a perfectionist, I zero in on anything that went “wrong” and spend plentiful amounts of mental energy trying to figure out how to avoid that ever happening again. Or, I look ahead with worry at the future, and soon myself swept up by the waves of anxiety as I frantically try to control all that is to come.
How we look ahead and how we look back is a vital matter of perspective.
At least we know we aren’t alone in this struggle with perspective. The Israelites had their funky ways of looking at this, too.
After being rescued from slavery and led out into the desert, the Israelites became unhappy with their situation and started to look back with envy at the lives they’d been rescued from. Through their rose-tinted glasses, they remembered “good ol’ days” of being...slaves.
The reality of the situation was that they were just that, slaves, and their conditions were awful. However, their current situation, with its overwhelming feelings and fears, clouded their perspective into remembering things wrongly, simply out of a desire to “get out” of the discomfort they found themselves in.
I do this, too! When the floods of trials come, I find my mind swimming back into dreams of whatever season I just completed, and thinking how good that was and how much I miss it, even if it pales in comparison. It seems like thinking about anything else would be better than facing the real challenges at hand.
The kicker of the whole “perspective” conversation with the Israelites is that they were groaning and complaining to God about running out of food, but that’s not what was happening! That is simply what they were afraid was going to happen. They were actually completely and fully taken care of by God. They just didn’t want to have to trust God for that every single day.
That truth is mine in this season, as well. I have to stop and acknowledge the reality of my situation, and what I often hesitate to admit is that despite my feelings, I actually do have all that I need.
Like Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (NKJV) Other translations read “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (NLT) and ”God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.” (MSG)
God meets my needs every single day. Every single need. Every single day.
He knows my needs better than I do. I simply don’t like having to come to Him day after day, admit my needs, and wait for Him to meet them. It hurts my pride. I’d rather handle things myself. Like the Israelites of the wilderness journey, sometimes I find myself yearning for the slavery of self-sufficiency I once stood shackled to.
So this New Year season, I will not give in to an enslaved perspective. I will look back with thankfulness and contemplation on the ways that this past year has unfolded. And I will look ahead with humility and faith that God has always, and will always, be faithful to meet every need every day. He won’t do it my way, or by my schedule. And praise the Lord for that.
I hope that we’d dig a little deeper in our relationships with God this year, that we would trust Him more fully, and allow Him to use us more freely. May 2017 bring you closer to Him than ever before. Happy New Year!