It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? We are about to place 2018 in the history books and welcome a new year. While the end of the year is naturally a time for reflection, looking back over what has past, it is also a time of looking ahead into a more hopeful and promising future.
I love the passage from the ancient Song of Solomon, “Lo, the winter is past; the rains have come and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come.” We are about to plunge into the heart of literal winter, but in a symbolic sense the new year is a time to say goodbye to the winter of discontent and welcome a hopeful season of renewal and promise.
With this in mind, I want to share three heartfelt commitments for the new year. I hesitate to use the word “resolutions,” although that is what they are. But a resolution can be most anything from major life changes to nitpicky details. (I really want to find a better way to keep up with all my passwords—isn’t that a resolution?) But a commitment is a deeper resolution that is grounded in my very being.
My first commitment for 2019 is to live every day to the fullest and to savor every life experience. In the second chapter of Genesis, God creates man by breathing into the dust of the ground the breath (the Hebrew word means Spirit) of life. My existence is totally dependent on God’s life-giving spirit. As my friend, Pierluigi, in Italy said, “Ray, we all live under the sky. Life is a gift and so we must “carpe diem,” seize the day!” I have been blessed to experience life for almost 65 years—I don’t know how many years, or even how many days, I have left. I want to cherish every day and live each day to the fullest, glorifying God in all that I do.
Secondly, I want to see the good in every person. If we believe that every person is created in the image of God, then we must believe that there is inherent goodness, or at least the potential for goodness, in every individual. Social media has made it too easy to criticize, to complain, and to focus on the negative. We witness character assassinations at the highest levels. My commitment is to build people up, not to tear people down. Jesus had the remarkable ability to see the Godly potential in people who were rebuked and scorned by even the most religious and pious. A woman at the well, a prostitute, an unethical tax collector, a thief who was dying on the cross—he said he had come to seek and to save the lost. If someone is lost, it means they can be found. I want to see the good, to lift up the fallen, and to share the way of light to those who are lost in darkness.
My third commitment as we embark on this new year is to do all that I can to enrich the lives of others in redemptive ways. I want to be a part of the solution rather than creating or exasperating a problem. I want to make a difference in the lives of others, for that is what God has called us to. Love God and love your neighbor—the two greatest commandments. Jesus told us that the greatest among us are those who serve. “Everybody can be great,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, “Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
I wish all of you a happy new year. I invite you to join me in making a few significant commitments for the new year that will enable us to proclaim: “Lo, the winter is past; the rains have come and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come.”