In 1 Chronicles, the 28th chapter, King David shares a bit of his disappointment with us when he reportedly says, I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord…and I made preparations for building…but God said, “You shall not build a house for my name…”
The one thing David wanted most – buliding the Temple – he had to leave for those who came after him. We might do well to remember David’s unfinished business when we reflect back upon our own. What plans did you have for 2013 that did not come to fruition? What might you need to let go of as you prepare to step boldly into a brand new 2014? I am reminded of this wisdom, written by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, shortly before his assassination in 1980:
It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. God’s Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work… We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We lay foundations that will need further development. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning…an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
The Christian Gospel – and our response to it – must always lean into the new year, the new day, every new moment we are offered. We lean like plants lean toward the sun. We lean like children lean toward the loving arms of friends and family. We lean into the embrace of a God who chooses to live with us, and help us to step back from time to time in order to see the long view.
The author of Philippians puts it this way: This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Forgetting what lies behind – letting go of the disappointments of our unfulfilled plans and our unrealized dreams – can help us to lean forward into all that God may call us toward and offer us in the new year. It is true we cannot do everything – but let us not lose sight of the something which we can and will do in faithful response to God’s great love for us all.
Happy New Year!