Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Year: Hope

Possibility glitters like gold and draws us with its intrigue.

Why are we so taken with the idea of “starting over” at the beginning of a new year? I believe God made us that way. He created us in his image. He wanted us to be creatures who could perceive possibility. So when he was knitting us together, he installed in the control panel the ability to understand the concept of hope.

Hope looks to the future and helps us get over the past. At some point--the new year might as well be that point—we need to forget past failures and disappointments and put grieving behind us. Hope points ahead to better days and keeps us going, even through tremendous difficulty.

My son gave me an Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest journal for my birthday in 1996, when I had been a Christian for almost two years. I had bought journals before; I am a fool for small leather-bound books with silver or gold-edged pages. Always before, I wrote faithfully in my new journals for maybe two weeks—and then fizzled out. But when the My Utmost for His Highest journal came to live at my house, something clicked.

Now, almost ten years later, I am into my third Chambers journal. I read the Chambers dated devotional entry almost every day, and I write in the little half-page space about twice a week. Sometimes I fill up the entire space at once, and some pages have three years’ entries. I write about what I see God doing, about my thoughts, concerns, and prayers, about my children and grandchildren. It has been quite revealing to see how my thoughts change through the years. Sometimes when I read old entries, I am amazed to see how much my way of thinking has changed; sometimes I cry over old joys and sorrows.

This morning, I was jarred to read that even as far back as 1996, I was struggling with some attitude adjustments that I still need to make. That means I’ve been needing to change in a couple of important ways for ten years, and it has not happened yet. I am shocked at myself and glad that I have recorded it; otherwise, I would not realize that those same gooney-bird mindsets are still there. Once again, I will make some resolutions and keep working on those things. This time, I will do it—with God’s help.

Hope will keep me working on that. Vaclav Havel, a Czech dramatist, wrote that “hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

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