by Lancia E. Smith for The Cultivating Project
The year 2016 has passed silently now into history and overnight a new year has been born.
2017. Just to say it is an expression of relief. tweet
Last night was a quiet acknowledgment of 2016 coming to an end. Peter and I celebrated by ourselves and then for a few glittering moments at midnight shared the celebration with neighbors who were setting off fireworks beneath dark star-studded Colorado skies. The two of us toasted with Sparkling Martinellis on our back deck and prayed in the new year as we have done for decades. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we ended the year beaten, but we did end the year changed. We ended quieted. The smoke of a year of battle seemed to be dissipated along with the smoke of the fireworks, there so ephemerally and then moments later, gone.
This morning the gift of a new year being given to us comes as a revelation of grace and wonder. The air is clean. We are tired but in some mysterious way, we have crossed over an invisible but real boundary. In my heart crossing over into 2017 feels like crossing into the promised land leaving a long period of bondage forever behind us.
For weeks in my devotional times I have been coming to a place of overwhelming quiet, coming to the end of myself, I believe, after a year of tremendous inward conflict and outward responsibilities. This morning the Lord brought me back to a verse I have spent time with long ago, Isaiah 43.18-19.
Once again, I hear The Lord’s strong, personal, commanding voice. The voice I first fell in love with as a new Christian, the voice I still love better than all other voices. I hear His quiet, comforting admonition to let the past go, to not dwell there or bring it into the present. I hear His Kingly voice as God and Creator speak the words of a new life, a new chapter, a new day. I hear Him say it again in such a living way – to expect great things of Him who makes all things new. In the deep of winter, He brings spring. If I am willing to look for it and give heed to it, I will see a way made where there has been none, and find streams of refreshment in the midst of a dry land. The issue here is not whether The Lord will do it. He said “I will”, not “I will if” – there is no contingency here. What is in question is whether I will be aware of it. In some translations of this verse ‘aware’ is phrased as ‘give heed’ or ‘perceive.’ What am I looking at and where am I looking? Am I willing and courageous enough to expect The Lord to make a way for me through the wilderness – the wild lands? Am I willing to believe and expect Him to do the impossible again and make water in the desert? Our experience in life depends on what we are willing to believe and expect of Him.
I want to linger here with Him, and I want to invite you to join me in this. This verse, this day is not only for me, but it is an invitation to you as well. Whatever your past year held, friend, you are invited to lay it all safely down in the Lord’s keeping now. I am laying mine down and listening to our High and Holy God lean close saying quietly and full of promise that He is doing something new. What will it be?
This is the time of standing still in His presence and seeing what He will do. This is our year to keep company with Him and to courageously expect great things of Him. This is our year to see what He will bring to life. Will we each not give heed to it and be aware?
This is His year.
The image of the stream was shot this summer at Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District of England, a place very dear to me.
For this new year, friends, I pray every blessing and grace be yours and I give thanks for you.
You are also very dear to me.