I wrote this on January 1, 2017…and here I sit on January 1, 2020, resolving to return once again. This year, I have a little support — our faith community has committed to reading the Bible through chronologically, following The Bible Recap reading plan and podcast. Maybe you’d like to join me.
My daughter and I spent yesterday morning together at a “Breathe out 2016, Breathe in 2017” yoga class and afterward talked briefly about resolutions — the positive thrust toward change and the set-up for unrealistic expectations and imminent failure. The yoga instructor, intentionally or not, seemed to suggest that we could will good things to come to us by just opening our arms and our spirits to them.
Oh, that it were so.
Last night, at a New Year’s Eve worship service where my husband was filling in for local pastors away for the holidays, we sang the words, “Christ has done away with sadness,” and my daughter turned to me and cheekily said, “has He really done away with sadness?”
Oh, that it were so.
Truly, we don’t need to look far to see sadness. Every day we witness hatred, violence, murder, poverty, chaos, and, yes, sadness. Just last night in Turkey, thirty-nine people were senselessly murdered as they attempted to ring in the new year. The past year has had more than its share of sadness. Indeed, the coming year will not be immune.
So what are we to do? Wear sackcloth and ashes? Walk around wringing our hands and gnashing our teeth? Shall we shake our fists at God in anger, demanding that He do something?
We should do the same thing He’s been telling us to do since the Creation of the world — return to the Lord our God. That’s all. Our salvation is not in losing our holiday weight, in getting our finances in order, or in building a better portfolio. It’s in recognizing that God is still God even when He hasn’t done away with sadness.
When my husband asked the congregation last night to write down one way to connect with God in the coming year, I wrote down the same thing I wrote down last year: return to daily Bible study, return to daily prayer, return to regular writing. I had to write it down again this year because, as we have established, I am bent on turning away and am in constant need of returning.
The world, which is full of sadness, needs Jesus followers to immerse themselves in the Word and in prayer, because when we do this, we can’t help but reflect His mercy and His grace. We become beacons when we allow His light to take residence within us. We point to our Source of Hope and spread love rather than fear.
Will you commit with me to return to the Lord and allow Him to use us to shine His love into the lives of those around us? Imagine a new year that is filled with hopefulness that comes from Christ’s light shining in the darkness.
Behold I am doing a new thing…I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.Isaiah 43:19