Entering the New Year
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The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.—Proverbs 4:181
Find freedom from fear in the new year
Many people live in fear of what the future might hold. In fact, you might be dreading the new year in front of you because of what you brought with you from [last year]. But the more you read the Bible, especially the book of Revelation, you’ll discover that Jesus holds the future… and He’s holding you.
The Bible is all about Jesus, and Revelation confirms that He’ll come again as King of kings and Lord of lords.2 What a thrilling moment it will be when we hear the trumpet sound and we rise to meet Him!
But even before that wonderful moment, you can find the hope you need to rise above anything that’s striking fear in your heart today. Maybe what you’re seeing in the news is causing you to fear the future. Or maybe you’re battling fear about your health, your job, your finances, or the needs of someone you love.
So how can you find freedom from fears like these in this new year? The key thing you can do is to look up. Get your eyes off this world and fix them on Jesus!
We see a beautiful picture of Jesus in all His heavenly glory in Revelation 1:12–18. The apostle John sees this vision of Jesus and falls at His feet. But Jesus lays His right hand on John and says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.… Behold, I am alive forevermore.”
So let’s not listen to our fears. Let’s look up and listen to Jesus. Today, He’s telling you, “Fear not.” Why? Because He loves you, and He’s the one in control. He’s the Lord of life, the Lord of all, and He’s on the throne of the universe. And, as a believer, you can stand on the truth that Jesus will hold you in His loving arms all through this new year—and forever.—Jack Graham
At the start of last year I set off on a journey. Sitting on a pier, breathing in the salty sea air, I felt surges of both excitement and trepidation as my eyes scanned an ocean of time that stretched ahead.
In the course of my voyage, I sometimes faced turmoil and adversity. The turquoise sea became a churning, foaming expanse of dark, angry waves. Stinging rain and blustering winds battered my ship. But there were also times of blessings and steady progress, when bright sunlight sparkled on rolling waves and gentle breezes carried my boat forward.
I didn’t experience these things alone. My captain, Jesus, was with me. Together we faced each day. Together we braved the storms of adversity. Together we laughed and enjoyed the sunshine. I knew Jesus had a plan for our voyage and had charted the way.
Still, there were times when I questioned His judgment, when l already felt weak and weary of the struggle but would catch sight of yet another storm gathering on the horizon. “Jesus, must we go through more hardship?” I would plead, “If You love me as much as You say You do, can’t You make my voyage easier?”
With a smile, Jesus would softly reply, “I do love you that much. I always have and always will. Although everything around you may seem rough and stormy right now, it is only for a time. The sky will appear brighter and more beautiful after the storm. Just hold My hand and I will see you through. Look for the blessings that these storms bring.”
The secret, I learned, was to stay close to Him until the clouds cleared. And while I waited, I discovered some wonderful things. His loving presence became even more real to me during those stormy days, and His reassuring words gave me strength, soothed my nerves, and allayed my fears. And those blessings He spoke of? As I stand at the threshold of another new year, I look back and see that those times of testing engendered courage, faith, and hope—courage to never give up despite opposition and difficulties; faith anchored in a love that will never let me down; and hope in Jesus, who has a perfect plan not only for my next year, but for my whole life.—Elena S.
Reflecting on the past
When we look back over our past year and we see the highlights and victories, the joy and happiness, we also see the missed opportunities and the losses, the heartbreaks and the tears. We often feel some regrets and wish we had done this, that, and the other, or at least done certain things better.
As we reflect on our past, we should remember that we only see a small part of our past, and even that imperfectly. We see the places on our path where we got stuck, the places where the path ran out or got washed away, the steep hills that we barely made it up, and we can be tempted to wonder if we took the right path in the first place. But the Lord sees the making of a man or a woman—the depth of compassion we’ve gained, the wisdom we’ve attained, and the maturity we’ve developed through all our experiences.
Our path may have seemed like the wrong way or the long way—a dark and muddy path at times. But the Bible says that the path of the just is as a shining light, that shines more and more until that perfect day.3 He’s promised to light the path of our future before us, as He guides us to that day when He will reconcile all things to Him.4
Dear Lord, as we reflect on life and on our past, help us to reflect not only on the things we wish we would have done differently, but also on the good that came about, even if some of it came through difficult times. Encourage our hearts to know that although we can only see through a glass darkly, You see the big picture in perfect clarity, and You see the choices we have made throughout the years to give, to live for You, to serve You.
You have taken our gifts of love, service, and sacrifice, and despite our human frailties, mistakes, and shortcomings, You have used them to make many other people’s lives better. Even if we can’t see those effects right now, we know we will see them someday.—Maria Fontaine
Published on Anchor January 2018. Read by Jon Marc. Music by Michael Dooley.