03 January 2013

The Future

Thinking about the past year, I'm amazed at where it's taken me:

1. Church service mission
2. Seminary-teaching course
3. One semester of graduate school
4. 10 online articles
5. 100+ posts on my own blogs
6. 26 books edited
7. 24 books read (we don't count textbooks)
8. Some awesome friends and outings for memory
9. Survived a wreck without a scratch
10. Shed pounds
11. Temple blessings

At the beginning of last year, I had no plan, few goals. I thought I was doing nothing all year long.

So the list is a little staggering. And it didn't happen because of me. I would never have reached to such heights or survived some of the year's challenges on my own.

Some parts of the past year I wish would never change. Other parts I pray will never be repeated.

In some ways I hope for this new year and where it will take me. In other ways, I fear that the ills of the past will recycle. And it's that part (not the happy part) that's hard to stop thinking about. I want guarantees that life will be good and healthy and wonderful, not just bearable and workable.

But there are no guarantees, are there. We make our way through the rising mists as it was appointed we should.

As I was sitting here, though, wishing I knew what the year would bring, so I could prepare myself for it, take good things and avoid pitfalls, I was reminded of this story:

Christmas Day, 1939, England.
Hitler's campaign of terror had just crushed Poland and, it was obvious, meant to engulf all of Europe. Uncertainty about the future gripped nations that Christmas, and the next year, what little there was of it to see, looked bleak. King George VI was painfully aware of this as he gave his Christmas Day speech, quoting a passage from Minnie Haskins' poem "God Knows":

"I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied, 'Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.'
May that Almighty Hand guide and uphold us all."

This kind of faith and trust, rather than fear...my goal for the new year. 

The Lord helped me accomplish any good thing I was able to accomplish last year. He has brought me to this point. He led me to happy opportunities and pulled me through bitter struggles. He heard my prayers of gratitude and listened to my complaints and pleas for help. And He answered. He put up with my impatience and unkindness and feelings of entitlement. He blessed me, comforted me, guided me and kept me safe. That He will do so again this year, I have no doubt. He has my back. Why should I fear?

The new year is full of promise—pleasant surprises and muscle definers. I may not see it before me, but I'm going to work to make my attitude more like this:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ 

And he replied ‘ Go into the darkness and put your hand 
Into the hand of God that shall be to you better than light 
And safer than a known way!’ 
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God trod gladly 
Into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day 
In the lone East. 
So heart be still what need our little life 
Our human life to know, If God hath comprehension? 
In all the dizzy strife of things both high and low, 
God hideth his intention. God knows. His will is best. 
The stretch of years which wind ahead, so dim to 
Our imperfect vision, Are clear to God. Our fears 
Are premature; In him all time hath full provision. 

Then rest: until God moves to lift the veil from our 
Impatient eyes, when as the sweeter feature of life’s 
Stern face we hail, Fair beyond all surmise God’s 
Thought around His creatures our minds shall fill. 

Happy New Year!

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