Posted in

The Challenge of December 31st

             Even though I am happily married to a wonderful British West Indian, we still experience cross-cultural differences.  Obviously July 4th, when we Americans celebrate our independence from the tyrant King George III, is a bit dicey.  Strangely, December 31st presents another challenge.  Is it New Year’s Eve or, as my wife calls it, Old Year’s Night? 

            Calling December 31st “New Year’s Eve” means that we look on the day as pointing toward the New Year.  Calling it “Old Year’s Night” directs our attention to the day as the ending of the year. 

            Underlying this linguistic difference is an important spiritual challenge.  Should we look back on our past in the Christian life or forward to our future?  Some say that we should forget the past and quote Philippians 3:13 “… one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” but they misunderstand Paul.  The apostle means that he no longer values all of those identities that gave him a false claim to righteousness before God and superiority to others (ethnic identity, religious works, etc.).  These are to be left behind, and we are to press forward to fulfill our new identity in Christ.  He doesn’t mean that our past is gone and of no importance to us.  At the same time, we should not wallow in guilt by calling to mind past sins of which we have been forgiven by God.

            The December 31st reading from Our Daily Light, which my wife and I have used for our devotions for over 20 years, points us in the right direction.  The morning reading starts with Deuteronomy 1:31.  “The Lord your God bore you, as a man bears his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.”  We are to take advantage of the end of the year by reflecting back on God’s grace and how he has brought us to where we are today.  The evening reading directs our attention to the future.  “There remains yet very much land to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1).  We should examine ourselves, see what God is calling us to do and how he wants to change us in the coming year.  How can we be more like Christ and serve him and others better?  Our Daily Light also reminds us of our final future.  “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty” (Isaiah 33:17).  We look forward to the New Year with hope.

            I encourage you then to look back on 2011, consider God’s grace, give him thanks and in so doing increase your faith.  I also encourage you to look forward to 2012, seek the Lord’s will for you and hope for his appearing.

            Happy Old Year’s Night and Happy New Year!

2 thoughts on “The Challenge of December 31st

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *