New or Used?
Is your year starting off as new or used? Lucy, the Peanuts’ strip character, grumbles to poor Charlie Brown about the awful New Year she was having. She complains that problems abound, and she feels that difficulties are around every corner. Then she said, ”I don’t think this is a New Year at all ”“ I think we’ve been stuck with a Used year!”
Perhaps though, a used year would suit you better? Unfortunately, we can’t move forward if we are constantly looking in a rear-view mirror. American pastor and author, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, reminds us that the past is a rudder to guide us, not an anchor to drag us. We are to learn from the past but not live there.
This year, I committed to reading the Bible again chronologically. So, naturally, most of my reading is in the book of Genesis. Earlier this week, one of the focus stories was on Abraham and Lot. As I read, I was struck by the story of Lot’s wife in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. She is referenced in one short line that packs a powerful punch.
But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, she turned into a pillar of salt.Genesis 19:26 (NLT)
How often do we get caught up trying to look back to the past? Do we find ourselves paralyzed by the past instead of living life in the present and moving into the future? For we really can’t move forward while looking back without tripping and falling. Lot’s wife was paralyzed by the future. Perhaps, in fear, she attempted to cling to the used past which destroyed her life. It is easy to say to ourselves that we are different and not like her. But how often, do we, too, gaze longingly to the good times of the past while glossing over the bad?
Time ”“ An Unrepeatable Miracle
Spending too much time living in the used past and suffering from lost joys, causes us to instead lose sight of the promising future. English author, Margaret Storm Jameson said, ”The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle”¦for now is the time of your life.” Yet, it is the present that we often don’t rest satisfied with. We sometimes hasten the future to come, hold tightly to the past, or regret it such that we can’t move beyond it. We simply can’t make progress as long as we are holding onto the past, no matter if it is positive or negative.
It is said there are three kinds of people in the world: those who watch things happen, those who make things happen, and those who wonder, ”What just happened?” We must ask ourselves who are we? Who do we want to be? It is clear that whatever we store up inside ourselves, we will spend our time and energy thinking about. Therefore, if our thoughts, time, and efforts hang in the used-up past of our lives, it then freezes us in time. This is where we can’t live either in the present or future. We must learn to let our life go and give it completely to God in all aspects of time; past, present, and future.
The Used Past Provides Learned Lessons
The lesson we learn from Lot’s wife is that we can’t make progress with God as long as we hold tightly to the pieces of our old life. Ultimately, we must let go of our lives and allow God to take over otherwise we will lose it. But if we give our lives to God, we save it. We can either dedicate our life serving the idols of materialism, individualism, and skepticism; or we can serve God.
Trying to hold onto the past because we are afraid of the future means we have no life in either realm. By giving and committing our life fully to God in all realms; past, present, and future we prepare ourselves for His return and gain the strength of life’s spiritual dimension. For we can give our lives to God and stay secure in His care as we move into the unknown future. The past is gone but with Christ, the future is full of hope.
We must learn to live life with the persistent ability to grow and flourish in this New Year with Christ as our partner. Let us take a cue from Francie Nolan, the main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, written by Betty Smith.
”Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life”¦And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that no one little piece of living is ever lost.”
A Real ”New” Year
Won’t you find the challenge to move into the present tense and future by only allowing your used past to guide you? Find your conviction rooted in the promises of Christ and all that He offers you along the way. Allow your motivation to move you forward in constant motion knowing that no matter what happens on this earth, your future is preserved by Christ. Let Him find you in service to Him upon His return or yours to Him. Lastly, surround yourself in the comfort of knowing that God is in control and is fully aware of all you go through as He is with you every step of the way, now and in the future.
Corrie Ten Boom said, ”Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Throw off your paralyzing or used past and move into the promising present and future with Christ. Make this a real New Year and not just a used one.
Love in Christ,
I am the New Year, an unspoiled page in your book of time.
Your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.
All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.
For all the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.
All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have””these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.
I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, ”Behold, I make all things new.”Unknown
What are your thoughts?
Do you stand in the New Year paralyzed by the old? Can you identify with Lot’s wife looking to the used past instead of the new future? Share your thoughts on making this a real New Year and not the same old used one.