New Year


“So this is the new year.
And I don’t feel any different.
The clanking of crystal
Explosions off in the distance (in the distance).

So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions”

From “New Year” by Death Cab For Cutie

New Year is a funny time of year.  A time for new starts or false dawns, happy memories or painful regrets.  Time to be with the ones we love or to feel alone in a crowd… Edinburgh holds a huge street party were a majority celebrate by getting drunk – possibly to forget the disappointment of the year gone by and to escape the fears of the year ahead or, possibly,  just because it is the expected norm.

So here we are, the 5th of January 2009 – the first day back to work.  The sense of childhood memories of the end of the long school holidays.  Maybe there’s something still wrapped up in the season of goodwill, but there is something nice about most of the country taking a holiday at the same time.  You come back to work without the dread of hundreds of unopened emails and phone messages. 

It’s a time of year when we look back.  We look forward and wonder.  Often we make lame promises to ourselves to do things differently – but for how long?

I love the time just to regain perspective.  Holidays usually do that for me.  But what will I/we commit to do differently in 2009?  Who will I/we determine to be?

Karl shared some thoughts at our little community gathering yesterday that really challenged and struck home.  He talked about the story of Caleb from Joshua ch 14.  He challenged us that the Bible doesn’t often tell the stories of half-way dwellers – the Bible tends to focus on folks who are on top of the mountain or down in the valley. 

The temptation with being neither up nor down, is that it somehow feels safer or less risky.  Maybe it’s like at the time of the transfiguration.  We are tempted to pitch a tent and enjoy the view rather than returning to the world into which we were sent (to paraphrase the excellent “White Light Unkown” by Calamateur)…

I can look back to New Year’s Day 1992 and know that I was in a place where I wanted to journey forward – not to set up camp or become spiritually stunted.  My whole life lay before me – I didn’t have a clue what I’d do career wise, all my friends had paired off and I felt like a gooseberry or left on the shelf.  I spent time in solitude putting it all before God.  I believe to this day that as I prayed about relationships and girlfriends, He showed me the person I would next go out with and gave me such a peace about it.  Nine months later we did start going out.  16 years later we have been married for over 11 years and have a beautiful daughter.

The challenge for me now, just as it was then, is not to get too comfortable and to settle for anything less than all He has for me.  That is a daily choice and the outworkings will have ramifications not just for me, but for those around me.  I need to live by my convictions and to know my intrinsic value to God.  That is not something pious, but something very humbling.  As the old hymnal goes, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…”

In a life full of busyness and noise, do I order my day in a way that looks like someone wanting to hear from God?


2 Responses to “New Year”

  1. 1 scottgladstone January 8, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Very well put. That is all.

  2. 2 thestatethatiamin January 8, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks Scott. I hope 2009 is a good year for you. Glad to read of your trip away for a few days over the holidays.

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"The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard. He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called "The State That I'm In"". From "The State I Am In" by Belle and Sebastian
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