Pondering the year

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. (Hal Borland)

With just a few short days left in this year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect over the past couple of very challenging years. This pandemic has been astronomically difficult for a great many - losses abounding all around us. Families have lost loved ones - homes emptied of fathers, mothers, siblings - never to be quite the same again. Lives have been changed as bodies may have 'recovered' per medical standards, but the tell-tale signs of this awful disease linger on in the core of their being. Social gatherings have been curtailed, scaled-down, or not held at all - leaving many lonely, fearful, and without support. Masks have become a permanent part of the wardrobe of many - covering over smiles, hiding fear, and leaving us wondering what a person really looks like underneath it all. As we ponder the passing of these two very challenging years, let's not lose sight of the things that have held us together and what will hold us together as this thing seems to linger on. Truly our year's end is not an end, nor is it really a new beginning - it is indeed a 'going on' of what some think might never end. The crux of it all - use all the wisdom God has given us - take the experience we have gained - learn from it and do our best to gain even more wisdom.

God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me— my whole life one long, obedient response. Guide me down the road of your commandments; I love traveling this freeway! Give me an appetite for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot. Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way. Affirm your promises to me— promises made to all who fear you. Deflect the harsh words of my critics— but what you say is always so good. See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways! (Psalm 119:33-40)

Truly the lessons for living we can garner from God's Word are more than most of us can consume and learn in a lifetime, but we can be assured the consistent intake of his Word will lead to changed lives. New beginnings - challenges embraced - discoveries made - lives transformed. This is the hope we must cling to when all other earthly hope seems to elude us. God's promises are true - sure, certain, long-standing, and abiding. God's lessons are not learned in one moment - they are learned over a lifetime. His insights don't come to those who don't seek them, but the seeker is constantly rewarded with good things from the hand of God! God's wisdom will guide us through this thing. There is a passage from God's Word that reminds us there is nothing new under the sun. We might think there will be some big discovery that will redeem us from this awful disease, but truly it will be the accumulated knowledge of all the times we have faced diseases in the past that will give us the greatest wisdom to deal with this one.

Here's something we can rest upon - God will guide those who seek his guidance. He will give wisdom far beyond our years - we just need to ask. Then we need to listen and obey. I guess this is the hardest part of wisdom - obedience. It is the thing that eludes us the easiest, isn't it? It may seem the 'dark cloud' of these past couple of years has no intention of leaving us anytime soon, but we can stand assured God's presence goes with us when we lean into him for guidance as we go into this next one. Those who hunger for his righteousness will be rewarded with his counsel - his wisdom. The greatest thing we can do is ask God to help us, but it is also the hardest thing we can ask since it requires us to be obedient to what he shows us. New year - new challenges - but the same God we can count on through all of eternity. Just sayin!

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