A new year filled with the unknown stretches out in front of us.
I must admit, as I think about what the twelve months ahead might hold I sense some trepidation. I know there will be successes to celebrate, friends and family to enjoy, and surprising journeys to delight in, but it’s the “what if’s” of failure, sickness, or losses that nag me.
However, God intends for us to walk in confidence, even when we don’t know what is around the corner, as a recent experience taught to me.
One afternoon over Christmas, while spending the holidays in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my family, I decided to do some exploring with my teenage children beyond our usual haunts of the town and ski slopes.
We drove from our condo out of the town center and into a residential area. Neighborhoods lined either side of the street. The road began to climb steadily and soon we left behind any signs of habitation. The pavement turned to a snow-covered dirt road. Only a derelict barn and a disused mine shaft showed long abandoned human activity.
Just off the side of the road, we spotted a clearing and a handful of parked cars. This marked the location of the trailhead we were looking for, recommended by a local resident.
We parked our car and stepped out into the glare of a brilliant white winter landscape. Cold air stung exposed skin. Footsteps squeaked on the snow. At first it looked like freshly fallen snow from the day before would make the trail inaccessible, but cross-country skiing tracks showed a clearly visible path, fine for walking.
However, a sign at the entrance to the trail brought me to an abrupt halt. It read: Coyotes are active in this area. If attacked, fight back.
My teenagers laughed as I voiced my concern and so we proceeded on our way. But my imagination went into overdrive and gruesome scenarios played out in my mind. I pointed out paw prints in the snow. Were these from a coyote or a pet dog, I questioned?
Soon we were far from the safety of our car—alone in the silent white wood. Except, I had fear as my companion. It kept a cold grip on me.
Sometimes our fear is justified; when a real threat is present. Other times, our fear is groundless.
If I’d read the sign fully, I would have noticed it said: Coyotes in populated areas are less fearful of people. They have been known to attack pets and approach people too closely.
Not only was it highly unlikely we would see a coyote in the early afternoon, but it was even less likely to be aggressive towards us.
Irrational thoughts were spoiling the enjoyment of conversation, the laughter as snowballs flew through the air, and the warmth of being close to loved ones as I linked arms and walked with my sons and daughter.
And, if I had retreated to the safety of the car, I would have missed a delightful surprise just around the corner on the trail.
It is the same with the illogical ideas I have when I stand on the brink of a New Year. They can rob me of the delights God has in store for me.
Instead, God wants us to:
Enjoy the present and not worry about the future.
I love the practical advice the Bible gives us and how The Message puts it: Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34
At the end of each day, we want to go to sleep with the satisfaction of having been fully present and having lived the day well, making the most of every moment, while leaving the future up to God.
Look forward with confidence holding tight to his good promises
This is how God puts it: I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG).
As we begin a new year, we need to tell God we want to join in the good plans he has for our futures.
Dream and discover, and explore. Discover our dreams can come true.
Jesus said he would give us a better life than we ever dreamed of. (John 10:10 MSG)
Life doesn’t have to be a nightmare, it can be a beautiful reality. We need to bring our dreams for the year ahead to God, and believe with him they are going to be even better than we imagined.
As we turned the bend in the trail there in front of us stood a beautifully decorated tree filled with sparkling colored baubles. As we looked more closely, each bauble was lovingly inscribed with a name. We were delighted with our find.
What fear is stopping you from living today with hope and being bold about the year ahead?
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