Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future! (Deuteronomy 32:29)
The end of a year, and the beginning of a new one, always makes me a little contemplative. When we were kids our parents and grandparents would tell us how quickly time flies and the years roll by. Of course, we didn’t believe them. It seemed to take forever for our next birthday, or the next Christmas.
Now, we wonder why we even bother taking down the Christmas decorations, because the next one comes so fast it seems we might as well leave them up. As grown-ups, we are now the ones telling our children, and grandchildren, how quickly time flies and the years roll by. Of course, they don’t believe us either, but they will.
As the old saying goes, “Time marches on.” But, for the follower of Jesus Christ, the passing of time is not something to be feared. We walk with the God who knows everything about us, including our days:
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:16)
The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. (Psalm 37:18)
How many days we have here is not really the point. The point is what we do with the days we have here. That’s why, as your pastor, I’m always pushing you to dig deeper in your faith walk with Jesus. It’s not easy in the world we live in that is always trying to get us to focus on anything except our relationship with God. What you and I have to always remember is, the clock is ticking.
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them.’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
Solomon, the writer of the verse above, is reminding us that whatever we’re going to do with God we need to do it now, today, this year. I don’t know if you ever have this problem, but when it comes to spiritual things people tend to be terrible procrastinators.
As you and I look back to 2016 we can take stock in what we have achieved in our spiritual walk. “Have I grown in my knowledge of God’s word?” “Do I feel I have come to know God better than I did a year ago?” “Have I helped someone else grow in Christ?” “Have I shared my faith consistently?” “Have I contributed to the work of the Kingdom?”
I don’t know how each of us would answer those questions, but I do know that the one thing all of those questions have in common is that they are in the past tense. 2016 is gone, and the 365 opportunities we had in that year to move forward as followers of Christ, to know, honor and serve Him to a greater degree, those are gone as well. However, one of the great thing about God is that He doesn’t dwell on our past, and we shouldn’t either.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
We can’t relive 2016, or any of the years before then. We can’t undo the mistakes we’ve made. We can’t change decisions we’ve made. We don’t have a DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor to let us go Back to the future and change the past. We can learn from our past, but then we have to leave our past, not linger in it, and languish over it.
What we can do is move into 2017 with a fresh determination to use however many opportunities we have to honor God by growing in our relationship with Him, and by seeking to serve Him with all of the days He gives us. That way, however many days, or years, we have, we know they won’t be wasted.
No, we can’t go back to the future. But, we sure can more forward into the future with excitement for what we will see God do in 2017. Happy New Year!
Dr. J. Clay Stevens is Lead Pastor of Cross Culture Church in Raleigh, NC. He is author of the book I Get It! Discovering How To Really live In The Promises Of God. His life mission statement is: "To take people from where they are to where God wants them to be."