The mark of a new year often includes promises and celebration. While both of these activities are a reflection of tradition, neither one has sufficient impact to empower a person to look at the past in reality or the future with soberness. Neither one has the power to sooth the loneliness of a soul or the impact of calamity. Neither one has the power to eradicate past mistakes or help avoid them in the future. Neither one is able to put life in perspective, whether it has been full of good or bad.
Whether an event like the lunar eclipse is watched in anticipation of a sign or just the pleasure of seeing a relatively rare event, it passes by like other events that are relegated to history. The time is evaluated, stored, and might be retrieved later for a remembrance, just like the sketch of the event illustrates. It was a pleasure to watch and record, but is life just an accumulation of things we have enjoyed and remember later?
Happenings with people are the same. They pass, not to be occur again except in the form of a memory. Some are good but some are not. In a little place in the Philippines I grabbed a picture of these two children and their grandmother. It is a memory. Now they are two years older, if they are alive. What do they think of the coming year, or the year that just passed? How do they evaluate the past or look to the future? The question is a universal one for anyone.
Of the 20+ million displaced or fleeing people around the world, some of whose images we have seen in media, they are older, too. Some lost their lives last year, like some of the children that drowned as they made the perilous passage from Syria to Greece. Most of the refugees are still without homes and jobs. They gaze at the same stars that I do, but from much different circumstances. Does the future year promise something to these people any more than me? Will they celebrate the end of this year, or look forward to the one to come? What about their friends still in their native land?
The image of the clouds shows the start of a circulation that occurred near us. It did not materialize to a tornado, but many similar events in the US did materialize to violent weather that destroyed homes and killed people as late as a few days ago. Events like these or even milder ones can change how we see things. They cause us to remember that life is not promised like a firm contract. Arrogant leaders have and are known to rape their citizens for decades by accumulating wealth and power at their citizens’ expense. Some are wiser by investing in their people. Would we do any better? Did we choose the nation or region where we would be born? I think not–on both counts. Whether weather or governing circumstance effects our lives, how do we assess those times as we remember them? How do we assess the future and how do we plan to live through good or bad? Is there any firm ground to stand upon? Does a year-end celebration make all that serious stuff go away?
The love of Almighty God is not deterred by our circumstances, whether we see them as good or bad. But, our lives in the past or our future cannot be seen properly without Him. How can we obtain this perspective? It is certainly not by celebration at the end of a good year, because the year may not have been good. Our promises to do this or that in the future are pretty weak, too, in view of our inabilities to make ourselves better. Rather, evaluating the past and walking forward are set on firmer ground by calling on His Name. It is the Name of the Only One whose birth, life, death, and resurrection assured us of forgiveness for our sins and life eternal, regardless of our present circumstance. However, it takes reaching to Him from a deep part within us to set this course.
Do you want the knowledge of God more than anything? It will change how you look at the previous year and how you look at the year to come. It will change how and what you celebrate. It will change how you see others. It changes everything, if we let it.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.