How often have I heard it, read it on a plaque, or even repeated it myself? Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). This verse has provided me the framework for the transition from one year to the next.
Jesus is the same yesterday….
What is the common saying? Hindsight is twenty-twenty? First on my agenda for the New Year is to take an objective look at the past year. Looking back on 2010, my experiences form a mountain range as I review both the terrifying valleys and staggering peaks of the past twelve months. From today’s vantage point, time and perspective seem to have smoothed some of the jagged and painful chasms while also accentuating the zeniths. I look for the intersections of the supernatural with the mundane in my journal, in my photos, in my bank statement and in my calendar.
As I look back, I realize that in the midst of a crisis (inward or outward), I can easily miss the still small voice of God or the tangible undercurrents of His actions. In either the heat of the battle or the crushing routine of a Tuesday, I can totally miss God’s presence. From here, it’s easier to recognize that just like beads on a necklace or charms on a bracelet, each day of the last year had a beauty of its own. Intentionally taking the time to trace out the presence of God in 2010 is an essential part of seeing His hand more quickly in 2011.
You know those phrases that just resonate with you? The ones that make so much sense that it’s almost as though you are welcoming them back rather than hearing them for the first time? “The present of the present” was that for me. Motivational speakers, song lyrics, proverbs from the Bible have all touched on the reality that today is all I’ve got. Yesterday is gone and I will never live in tomorrow since it soon becomes my today.
Before you think I’ve donned a black turtleneck and taken up beat poetry, you have to admit that you know this yourself. The mysterious some day never really comes. Waiting to buy a couch until I meet Mr. Right so that he can help pick it out (not to mention pick it up), waiting to dream dreams at work until things slow down (I have just one word in response to that statement- Ha!), or delaying being generous until all my needs and wants are satisfied (I am particularly ashamed of that last one so let’s move quickly on…we’re walking…we’re walking) is the height of futility.
This past year enjoying the gift of the present meant stopping every once in a while to bask. If it’s a “good” day, I intentionally enjoy the bliss inherent in the moment. If it’s a “bad” day, I stop to realize that behind the pain of the moment, I still have a great deal for which to be thankful. As glorious as the promise of a new year is, each day I can have a fresh start as I remember the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning. Accepting the gift of the present and intentionally living in the “right here, right now” and not the “when I’ve got the Bible memorized, I’ve lost twenty pounds and my bank statement stops making me cringe” is the next thing on my New Year’s to-do list.
Time is funny; hours drag and weeks fly. The years since high school graduation are like a day but the five minutes until the doctor tells you the test results are everlasting. Years pass and wrinkles form. Infants grow up and produce infants of their own but in your mind, you’re still seventeen. “Living in light of eternity” is much more easily written then lived. If you find yourself on an elevator with me, I’m probably the one whispering, “My life is but a vapor. Someday I’ll laugh about this. My ways are not His ways,” as I desperately try to pry open my current situation and insert some perspective into it.
I have a confession to make. In an effort to straddle this disconnect, I write to the future Anitra. In my journal, I tell her to remember to keep the main thing the main thing, that God loves her and nothing she can do will change that, and to never ever drive to a wedding assuming she will be able to put on her shoes when she gets to the church, since she will inevitable have forgotten the left shoe.
Strangely enough, future Anitra doesn’t seem to always listen to me as attentively as I would like.
In the Bible, God reminds me over and over that this life is not the way it always will be. Everything that causes sorrow will pass, rampant inequality will be addressed and life as I know it will be set on its head as the first shall be last in His kingdom. C.S. Lewis writes about our longing for Heaven as evidence of Heaven’s existence. We hunger because food exists and we shout “unfair” because there is a universal standard of behavior woven deep into our spirits. Our hearts are never satisfied, our longings never addressed and our spirits always tethered to earth as long as we are on this side of eternity.
This year, I’m resolving to make a serious run at being at peace with the past, accepting the gift of the present and living in light of the eternal. Not to mention reading my Bible every day and losing that pesky twenty pounds. If you are looking for some resolutions of your own, chapter thirteen of Hebrews might be a place to start with all its encouragements for life. Happy 2011!
C.S. Lewis writes about our longing for Heaven as evidence of Heaven’s existence.
Anita can be contacted at [email protected].