The New Year

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

Today is the first day of the year, and to be honest with you, it’s almost a bit scary staring another year in the face. Looking behind we think, “What happened to the good intentions and resolutions we made a year ago—ones which we have not only failed in attaining but can’t even remember what they were?”

Looking to the future, we have hopes that things will be better in our world, in our homes, in our personal lives; yet someway our hopes are laced with a slight whiff of cynicism, knowing that we are apt to see a rerun of the past, much like the man who had a boring job which he had for years. He used to say that he actually had one year of experience repeated thirty-five times.

There is one very important thing you must remember: Nothing will happen to you this coming year which is unknown to our heavenly father, whether it is armies that do battle, or the personal struggles you will face in your own life. At the same time nothing will come as a surprise to Him, either. He knows.

Have you ever taken a small child for a walk towards evening, and as long as it was light, your child ran ahead of you, gaily playing, having no thought of you, until it began to get dark, and then the darker it became the closer he got to you, finally reaching up for your strong hand, wanting daddy to curl his large hand around his.

Frankly, that’s my feeling as we start another year. When I was a teenager, more than a few years ago, I remember that as New Year’s Eve approached, there was always a prayer service in my church. We sang, shared experiences, and talked until the midnight hour approached. Then before the clock struck the midnight hour, we always knelt and prayed. We called it, “praying the old year out and the new one in.” I’m sure that I searched my heart, asking God to forgive the mistakes and failures, strengthening me to do better for the next year.

And what happened? The answer depended on my attitude and focus. What the New Year brings to you isn’t nearly as important as what you bring to it. Don’t bother to make resolutions; make commitments, yielding your future to Him who holds the future. Instead of stubbornly holding out for what you want, try praying, “Lord, have your way in my life.”

Long ago, David, who knew something of the ups and downs of life, cried out, “There is forgiveness with you that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:4, NKV). That isn’t a truth for the midnight hour but for every day. You can count on the faithfulness of the Lord no matter what the New Year holds for you.

Frankly, I’m glad that I don’t know what it will hold—for two reasons: (1) If I knew, there would be no surprises, no serendipities as something wonderful happens, and (2) If I knew some of the troubles that would knock on my door, I’d be thinking about them, worrying about them, trying to solve them long before they arrive. And besides, as Mark Twain used to say, most of the things he worried about never happened.

There is one powerful thought I leave you with today: God’s grace is ladled out on a daily basis—just for today. Corrie ten Boom used to say that her Father never gave her the ticket until it was time to board the train. That’s how God dispenses His grace, too. Just enough for today, and no sooner or later than you need it. Remember, God is seldom early, but He is never late. He is exactly on time.

Resource reading: Deuteronomy 31:1-8.