I wonder how many of you have said recently, “Where has the year gone?” We get the impression that time moves faster as we get older, or we say “Time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.” The facts are there are still sixty minutes in an hour, twenty four hours in a day, and three hundred and sixty five days in a year. That unchanging pattern reminds us that God is still on the throne, and our world displays the order of our unchanging God, but we still live with the uncertainty that we “do not know what a day may bring.” (Proverbs 27:1)
In this final month of the year, take time to reflect on events in your life. Has 2018 held all that you expected on the first of January? What effect has the unexpected had on you, your family or our church? Did you have plans that have been completely crushed and left you despondent or even bitter? Have you had precious blessings or encouragements that you could never have anticipated?
James, the half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ gives us wise advice when he writes,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say,
If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. (James 4: 13-15)
His first advice is “Be careful how you plan your travel and work.” It is right to make plans, because our lives are not to be a random series of accidents and incidents, but those plans are always to be made acknowledging that our health or circumstances could change in a moment. God may have other plans.
He then reminds us of two unchanging facts, none of us is able to see or predict the future and our life here on earth is limited. There is One who knows the future, and in fact who plans the future. Our God says,
I am God, and there is no other; … declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:9,10)
We can become so full of our own importance, that we think nothing will happen without us, but James tells us that we are no more than a mist. He is referring to the vapour that evaporates as a kettle boils, or the mist that I saw recently as I cycled along the side of the river. It seemed so in control and restricting and yet as the sun rose so it was consumed in the heat and the light.
His concluding advice is to live in a conscious daily relationship with God who continues to rule and direct this world. It is part of our English language heritage to say, “God willing” or to write DV (Latin Deo Volente), but is it part of our Christian thinking and living? God had to say through Isaiah,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)
So at the close of one year and the start of another, are you willing to live a life of faith which day by day says “Guide Me O Thou great Jehovah”? Unless this is the guiding principle of our lives we will end up disappointed at best, frustrated and angry at the worst. As we face a new year, let us face it together in fellowship with our reigning God, whose great desire is that we might be saved and prepared for eternity.
Thank you for your fellowship through another year and may we together walk with Him.