Changes are awfully unsettling for me. I like my little nest, where everything is just so and nothing jostles me too much. I like routines and schedules, the comfort of knowing what’s going on—both immediately and in the future. Change can be exciting sometimes, but mostly it’s really tough. It’s tough leaving behind stuff I know and love, and it’s tough not knowing what’s ahead.
Not long ago, my husband and I found ourselves moving away from family and friends. We had good reasons for the move, and we knew where we were going, but of course much of the future was still a big blank. And that was scary.
As we stand before the New Year, we don’t know what’s in store for us. But there’s one thing we do know, and that is that we can leave the past, with all of its cares, pains, heartaches, and mistakes, behind. We can’t undo one single act or unsay one single word, but if we will give our grief and regrets to God, He can make this New Year a fresh start.
Every day of the past year is beyond our reach, and we should leave it there. God has the past in His keeping, and we should not go back and be tormented with regrets. It’s sad how some people say they’re trusting God, yet they worry about the blots and stains on the pages of their past.
In most countries the new year is celebrated on the first day of January, but in Cambodia, my home for three years, we got to celebrate New Year three times every 365 days.
First comes the international New Year on January 1, best known for late-night parties and morning-after hangovers.
Then there is the Chinese New Year in January or February. The Chinese New Year is a time to light firecrackers, visit relatives, and burn faux paper money to one’s ancestors.
I have come to realize that God takes His time. Perhaps that comes from being eternal. He has all the time in the world, so why should He hurry?
God is an investor, not a speculator. He doesn’t “buy” something today with the intention of “selling” it tomorrow. Sure, He wants to get high returns on His investments, but He can wait a very long time if need be. He invests in people, and He doesn’t seem to mind the time it takes for that investment to pay off. Knowing the future also comes in handy, no doubt.
Life is all about the little decisions you make every day. Decisions of the past have had their effect, but every newday can be a new start. No matter what has happened up till now, you have a chance to make the right decisions today.
Don’t waste time reliving the pain of past mistakes and wrong decisions. That only saps your power to do what you can do today. You can’t change the past, but the future is what you make it, starting right now, so take full advantage of the present.
It’s Christmas Eve. A month ago the sun disappeared below the horizon and will not be seen again until mid-January.
Norway at this time of year is not as dreary as you might think, though. The snow-covered landscape glistens from the light of the moon and stars, and the sun’s reflected rays dance across the night sky. The colors can take your breath away.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” Plato wrote.1 Others have since added that necessity is also the mother of reinvention—meaning that new challenges give birth to progress in new directions. That certainly has proven true during the economic upheavals of the past couple of years. Forced from their relatively comfortable positions in the former status quo, many people have reinvented their businesses or found promising new careers in fields they never would have considered otherwise. Others have reexamined their priorities and are now focusing on things they used to think they didn’t have much time for, such as family, community service, charity work, further education, or spiritual pursuits.
“Can I stay with you tonight?” Carlos asked in a trembling voice. He’d had a terrible argument with his wife, he explained over the phone, and he couldn’t return home. My wife and I knew that Carlos had already been going through a very difficult time in his life. To begin with, he’d hoped to be promoted to general manager of the company he worked for, but the job had gone to someone else. A few days later he’d been involved in a traffic accident, though fortunately no one was injured. Now this! Everything seemed to be going wrong.
I invited him over, and before he arrived, my wife and I prayed for Jesus to help us encourage him, as well as for wisdom in how to advise him in this personal situation, if he should ask for that.
Jesus came to make salvation as easy as He could. That’s one reason why the religious leaders of His day wanted to see Him crucified, because their religious system as good as said that nobody could be saved without following their complicated laws, traditions, and religious rigmarole.1 Jesus taught that all we need to do to be saved is believe that He is the Christ, the Savior, and that we are sinners in need of salvation, and then ask Him for salvation.2
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire, and he told his boss of his plans to leave and live a more leisurely life with his wife. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see such a good worker go, and he asked the carpenter to build just one more house as a personal favor.
The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.