It’s a foggy morning here at the lake. So foggy that I can’t see the water, let alone the shore on the other side. What’s visible is the bit of road right in front of me.
‘Tis fitting for this last day of the year. And the day before the start of a New Year. From here, we have no way of knowing what’s waiting for us across the shore one year from tonight. We have no idea what 2016 will hold. All we have is the bit of road in front of us. It’s up to us to walk it well.
I’ve spent serious time thinking and reflecting the past several weeks. For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve come up. This is how I plan to live out 2016, God willing.
1 – Leave the past in the past.
The best day of your life and the worst day of your life have something significant in common. You can’t change either one of them. You can’t go back and make the best day better or the worst day worse. All we can do is live our best today. I give you the advice of my cowboy friend Glen Broek. “If ya got one foot in yesterday and the other foot in tomorrow, ‘yer pissin’ all over today.”
2 – God is all about going forward. We should be all about going forward, too.
God forgives our sins, forgets our sins, promises to never stop working on us, offers a life more abundant and an eternal future. He is forever nudging us forward, into the life He desires for us.
When we find ourselves playing the mental loop tape of past disappointments, hurts and failures, let’s ask ourselves “What am I doing right now in this minute to move forward?” Then move forward. Even and especially when the next step is difficult. God will honor your steps in the right direction.
3 – Allow God to define Himself and His relationship to you by His terms, not yours.
I’m convinced that nothing will impact the trajectory of our life more than our view of God. An inaccurate, which is to say un-Biblical, view of God is like being half a degree off on a rocket launch. We’ll end up missing the target by a hundred miles.We MUST allow God to define Himself by His terms. When we do we are surprised and astonished by the depth of His love and grace.
4 – Don’t sell God short.
Among my biggest sins and failures is to underestimate God and His ability to do anything and everything. Even here on this last day of the calendar year, God is proving (once again) to me that while He may be slow, He is never late. I am purposing this year to better believe in God’s ability “to do above and beyond what I can imagine”. That includes His ability to make something good of the stubborn, slow, myopic mess that is me.
5 – Live, really live, life where you are.
Technology allows us to carry the world in our pocket and check in with it 24/7. At the risk of sounding like an old codger, I’m not sure that’s a power we should have.
Yes, we are more informed than ever. And more paralyzed than ever. We can waste days and weeks worrying over all the sin in the world. Am I troubled by evil Islamists beheading innocent people? Yes. Am I angry with evil, self-serving politicians bent on destroying our country? Yes. Should I be angry? Yes.
Should I pray against these?
Yet in God’s sovereignty He has placed me in Lubbock, Texas for His purposes. I don’t know why. (Neither does my wife. Just ask her.) But it’s not for us to know. It’s my job to daily walk the bit of road He opens to me. For me, it’s investing my life in my family, my students and the people in my ministry. The world will not be made better by me wringing my hands and fretting over all the evil and human selfishness I see on social media. But the world will be made better with me doing my job here with the gifts and talents God has given me.
6 – Be purposefully and deliberately kind. All day. Every day.
I’ve always been purposeful about this. This year I resolve to be even better. This past year I’ve watched total strangers wipe tears away upon hearing the kind word God prompted me to offer them. I’ve watched frazzled young moms pushing toddlers in a grocery cart beam with pride upon hearing kind and complimentary words offered about her kids. I’ve watched old, gray haired guys shuffle their feet and stare at the ground because they didn’t know how to handle the encouraging words God nudged me to give them.
The world is absolutely starving for a kind word, a kind thought, a kind action. Call people by their name. Give hugs. Pay compliments. Encourage at every opportunity. Everyone we meet is looking at a foggy lake and we have no idea what’s out there. A kind word on the patch of road we’re on gives us hope to take the next step.
7 – Remember that God is large and in charge.
When the corruption around you is red lining and you wonder how many levels of stupid can be attained by people before they explode, when you wonder how long evil will be allowed to seek, kill and destroy, remember that God is firmly on His throne. As Isaiah says, God “spreads out the heavens like a tent and weighs the islands like fine dust”. He uses earth as a foot rest. He renders the judges of the earth meaningless. The rulers of earth are less than nothing before Him.
The day is coming when all of us, including every cynic, skeptic, atheist, agnostic, tyrant, politician, egotist and narcissist, will kneel and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God wins. Because of His mercy, grace, and kindness we who believe in the name of Jesus share in this joy.
Here’s to a blessed and productive year of growing in the grace and knowledge of God. Happy New Year!
Todd A. Thompson – December 31, 2015