As I write this week’s column, can I just admit from the outset that I’m not sure I should be writing this week’s column? At least, not on this topic. I could easily come off as grouchy and pessimistic, depressed and depressing. Better to keep my mouth shut.
But I’ll give it a shot. Writing, that is. I’m not disciplined enough to shut up.
You see, just a few days ago we blew right into and right past the eighth day of Christmas, better known as New Year’s Day. Personally, I care more about the former designation than the latter.
A few months ago, I was driving my truck, which I love, down the highway when the odometer rolled over past 100,000 miles. I’ve hit insects that made more of an impact; I didn’t notice any stutter or glitch or alarm at all.
The same was true on New Year’s Eve a few nights ago. My first breath in the new year felt exactly like my last breath in the old one. At least, I think it did. Since I’d been asleep an hour or so, I didn’t notice. No, I didn’t see the big ball drop in New York (via TV or otherwise). I’d much rather have a root canal than be in that crowd in person. (But I feel the same way about attending the Super Bowl in person. I’d love to win tickets to that “event” so I could sell them, seek mountain snow, rent a cabin, and read a good book by a fire.)
I’ve wondered if our God notices very much the turn of calendar pages. Off the cuff, my first reaction is a snort and a No. But I have to quickly modify that response. He certainly is divinely, intimately, marvelously, aware of the “times.” He sent his Son into this world “when the time had fully come.” And that was exactly “when Quirinius was governor of Syria” and “during the time of King Herod.”
When we wonder what kind of year this new one will be, we might well spend some serious time pondering the time when Jesus was born. Joy, as in “good news of great joy,” was off the chart for angels and some shepherds and, later, a few wise men. But—and this is not the stuff of Christmas cards—so was sorrow for the mothers of the boy babies and toddlers Herod would slaughter in Bethlehem. Heaven knew that hope and boundless joy, love itself, would triumph, set free by Mary’s sweet birth-tears. But only the God of the universe could also completely feel the hot bitterness of the tears of her bereaved Bethlehem sisters and know that Love’s sacrifice would one day redeem even their own. I believe God’s heart was the only heart more broken than theirs. And how could they understand that then? How deep will be our vision into God’s plan as we see events unfolding this year?
So what do I know for sure at the beginning of this new year? I know I’ve got a new medical deductible. I know that taxes will soon be due. I know this year’s politics will be depressing. I know I’ve got an incredible amount to be thankful for and that I’m not as thankful as I should be. (I’m working on it. Hugging grandkids really helps!)
I know that some things will get better. Not as many things as I’d like.
I know that some things will get worse. More things than I’d like.
I have no crystal ball to tell me which will be which. That is a blessing.
I also know that, if we don’t despair, God can grow our faith more in hard times than in easy times. (I don’t like that truth.)
I know that God is good in all times, loving in all times. I know that faith in my Father is always a better choice than bitterness and cynicism.
And I know that at the end, because God is the Father who allowed his own heart to be broken to save us, love and laughter and joy will win.
I know that I’ll need you at times to remind me of that. And I’ll try to do the same for you.
You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2020 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.