Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Out with the Old, In with the New

Another year has flown by, and the next one is waiting in the wings. At this time of year I like to rewind and review the days gone by, even as I set my sights on the future. Now looking back doesn't mean just 2015; rather, I go clear back to my childhood and survey the trajectory of my life. I find it's a good time to take stock of where I'm at on this terrestrial hike and consider where it will all end up.

My wife thinks I'm morbidly obsessed with death. Of course, she's the one who repeatedly told me she'd be dead by 30, then 40, now 50. But you can't be a pastor, sitting at the bedsides of dying members and preaching scores of funeral sermons, without thinking of your own inevitable demise. That's what Psalm 90:12 is about where Moses prays, "Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom."

I'm in my sixth decade on earth and hoping I have another two, three or four to go. But wherever you may be along life's timeline, it's not a bad idea to stop each New Year, stand back, and look at the flow of your life. Hopefully, doing so, will give us a greater sense of purpose -- where we waste less time and make the most out of the stream of hours God gives us here.

It's also a good time to look at the end before us -- the eternal future that will mark our lives with God in paradise, won for us by Jesus who took our place through His innocent suffering and death. Because He is risen, we will rise to live forever. No, looking at our life and death is not morbid -- not as long as we don't forget the resurrection to come.

Moses ends Psalm 90 with a wonderful plea in verse 17: "Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the works of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" Remind us, Lord, why we are here. Let us busy ourselves with work that really impacts this world -- through our families, our vocations, and our faith-sharing. Let the compassion of our speech and the impact of our Christ-centered attitude resound in this world, long after we are gone, through our children, and the people we have met along the way.

Prayer for the New Year: Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures where we cannot see the ending, by paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go with good courage, remembering always it is Your hand that leads us and Your love that supports us, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The New Year is always a good time for fresh beginnings -- or a reestablished commitment to groundwork put down in the year just finished.

Where are you as you "ring out the old" and "ring in the new"?

You can share your thoughts on the Men's NetWork blog by clicking here and telling us your plans for the days ahead.

Happy New Year!

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