Most of us have read or heard of the ancient mapmakers who could only map up to the farthest explored point of the world. Of course. Beyond that, all they knew to write was “Here be dragons”. To them, dragons would have been the sum of their darkest fears. But beyond that farthest point might have been wonderful new worlds. And there were. Beyond that farthest point might have been the dragons of violent people, vicious wild animals, and other dangers never imagined. And there were. “Here be dragons” was the best warning they could give to those explorers who braved the unknown.
What will 2013 bring? It is the unknown, the uncharted waters of Time. But all of us who live beyond January one will be sailing into it. Many of us will be celebrating the New Year, hoping and praying for the heady discovery of sunny, sandy beaches. It is a time, also, of introspection. What can I do differently this year to make it better for my family, friends, neighborhood, the world, and myself?
Here are some New Year’s resolutions that have a more far-reaching impact than just the latest lose-weight craze or high-priced toy to “enrich” our lives. And no matter what life throws at us or hands us on a silver platter during the coming new year, these kinds of resolutions cannot help but make our own life better by far. They are from Hebrews 13:1-9, and mostly get us thinking more about other people and less about ourselves.
- Love each other with real brotherly love
- Be kind to strangers – you might be surprised who they are
- Remember those who are in jail. Put yourself in their place.
- Share the pain of people who are mistreated.
- Honor your marriage and its vows.
- Don’t be greedy. [Be satisfied with what you have in each stage of life, no matter what rung of the ladder you are on. Keep climbing, but don’t let that top rung be your only goal in life, lest you arrive there alone and lonely].
- If you’ve ever known a good teacher, or minister, or mentor of the Word of God, think of all the good they have done with God’s help and then put your trust in God as they do. [I know there are a lot of bad ones out there today, but the good ones are there if you look for them].
- If you put your trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you will receive spiritual strength as a gift from God. [We don’t pay for spiritual strength in cold religious rules and regulations. That gift from God encourages and strengthens us in loving others with true devotion, sharing their pain, and being satisfied with our marriage, family and circumstances].
- Do not be attracted and carried away with the kind of strange, new ideas that lead you away from the good and productive life God wants for you.
Am I looking for a perfect life in 2013? I don’t have a perfect life now. The economy has made a sink hole out of our retirement. Many of our close and beloved family members have lifelong problems which have led to lifelong consequences. Our hearts have been broken into so many pieces, even all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put them back together again. But our trust is ever in the Lord. Why?
Because God didn’t promise us a garden path through life. He did promise he would be with us THROUGH the shadowed valley. He didn’t say the bad places wouldn’t be there. But he did promise to guide us through them, if we let him. Consider the people of the Bible — not one of them lived a life without pain, without betrayal, without fainting, or falling. But they also had great, and glorious victories. The Bible does not whitewash anything, or anybody. It tells it like it is.
So Mike and I thank God that after 38 years of marriage, we still love, talk, and communicate with each other. We’re older, we’re tired, and often discouraged. But then we thank God for each little victory, however small, in the lives of our family. We share holidays and get-togethers with a lot of laughter, because we’re a “wild and crazy” bunch, and we love each other. We even share them with lonely, hurting people who are not even kin to us, because we love them and know and understand what they are going through. And who knows who we might be entertaining without even knowing it?
But even more, Jesus tells us what he will say as he welcomes us one day into His Kingdom.
- I was hungry, and you fed me
- I was thirsty and you gave me water
- I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home
- I didn’t have anything to wear, and you clothed me
- I was sick and you visited me
- I was in prison and you came to see me
And when we scratch our heads and say, “Huh? When did we do all this?” And Jesus will say, “When you did it for these, the least of my brothers, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:34-46)
The Bible calls this new and extraordinary life within us a “precious treasure”. It tells us that this light and power that now shines within us is held in a perishable container, which is our weak and mortal bodies, so others can see that light and know that the power within us must be from God and is not our own.
I will list what happens with that power:
- We are crowded in on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken.
- We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.
- We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.
- (from 2nd Corinthians 4:7-9)
That’s what being a Christian should be all about. Not to just tell others about Jesus, but to show them, also. If the light of his love is truly inside, it can’t help but show on the outside. The Bible calls us broken vessels, “cracked pots” if you will. But that’s how His light shines through, like a candle has been placed inside, and its light shines through the jagged cracks.
Remember, that Jesus doesn’t have mood swings. His love and loyalty never change with the changing years. He is always The Way, The Truth, and The Life. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So whatever the next year brings, may you hold fast to that “precious treasure”, and shine wherever you are.