The Choice of the Year
Here’s the truth …
“For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49).
So I have made a decision about 2018. Yes, it was a year of having 5 surgeries, leaving a church of 12 years, experiencing many deaths (including that of our precious 17-year-old cat), spending a ton of money on a basement waterproofing project, and moving on from a career. And if I allow myself to dwell on that, I would miss out on the warmth I would get from focusing on the amazing blessings that we received this year in the midst of those: being embraced at our new church, getting accepted into a leadership program, learning who my true friends are while also meeting many new people, getting the waterproofing job done before snow fell, and drawing nearer to God and having Him speak to me through His Word over and over and over again. I have never experienced so many answers from Him like that before! To me, that alone is worth celebrating!
I could be preoccupied, then, with the negatives of 2018 and spend much of New Year’s Eve counting down the hours before putting the challenging year to bed. Or I can do what God’s Word tells me to do: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
It is a choice, by the way, the things we decide to ponder over and over again in our brains. We can’t expect to smile if we look at our glass as half empty like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh would. When we start to tell ourselves that we’ve been dealt a rotten hand, we need to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV) and quit allowing negativity to define our lives. You wouldn’t want your wrinkles to define how people see you, so don’t allow the wrinkles you experience in life to dictate how you will look back on your life.
Imagine being Mary, for example, when she was given the news that she was going to become pregnant with Jesus. She could have looked back on that year as a very challenging one. Sure, we think today that it must have been a true honor to have been selected for that part to play in the history of our Lord, but it came with so many problems that get glossed over in the magic of it all. Joseph certainly didn’t have a good reaction to the news that she was pregnant when he knew that the baby wasn’t his: “[he] decided to break the engagement quietly” (Matthew 1:19 NLT). If an angel hadn’t appeared to him, he might have followed through with that. What isn’t told is the number of other people who probably questioned her regularly about her baby, knowing that it was conceived out of wedlock. Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter certainly could commiserate; it’s no fun to be pointed at and mocked. Mary’s parents aren’t mentioned either, but we can deduce that they wouldn’t have been very pleased with the news, no matter how many angels Mary claimed to have seen.
Despite all of what she probably endured, Mary chose to be joyful. She had every reason to be afraid and upset, but she sang this song in the midst of her circumstances:
Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For He took notice of His lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and He has done great things for me. (Luke 1:46-49)
She focused on her future and saw it accurately. She has indeed been revered because of what God selected her to do. She saw the hope when others would have concentrated on the uphill battle to come with friends and family.
I want to be like Mary. I want to choose hope. I want to see that the Lord who provided great blessings for me in the midst of a trying year must surely have a plan and a purpose for my life. I can choose to see 2018 as a year of growth, or I can choose to see it as a year of wilting.
… and that’s the truth as I know it.
Happy New Year!