The days so quickly pass, and another year has come and swiftly slipped through my fingers. As I complete this first week of the year of our LORD two thousand and ten, I am beginning to realize afresh how important and precious each day is.
It has been my lot to stand over the graves of two of the long tenured members of my church. One was a teacher to pioneer special education after the birth of her Downs syndrome son nearly seventy years ago. Gladys was the single mother of six children after the tragic accidental death of her husband in a farming accident in 1945. She was pregnant with her sixth child, a precious girl. When she heard of her husband’s demise she went into a terrible labor and was in such a state of sorrow she could not name her own child. Her little girl Linda was named by the women who cared for Gladys in her grief. Gladys rose from her sorrow to live an amazing life of 105 years. Her journey began in 1904 and ended in 2010 and all along the way she walked by faith and with a smile and a song.
Today, I stood over the grave of a hard determined man named George. George was hardened by life at a young age. He fought as a Marine Raider during the bloody dark days of the war in the Pacific against an enemy that was ruthless and relentless. He knew the valley of the shadow all too well. He was a Marine from that day forward. Often misunderstood, he was a good man at heart. He was one of the men who were willing to stand the post, and die for you if duty called. George liked me. I will miss him.
Moses composed the 90th Psalm looking over the river to a land that was fairer than day, but a land that he would never know. He knew all too well the fury of the LORD, and the rebellion and sin of his people. He also wrestled with his own rebellious heart. Out of this context he wrote:
“Teach us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom”
I fear I do not make the days count as I should. Do I really value the significance of each morning, and the sweet sleep of the night? I probably have more yesterdays than tomorrows. Am I wise enough to embrace today?
G.K. Chesterton was a newspaper columnist, author, theologian and Christian thinker of an earlier time in England. One of my favorite quotes of his cuts me between the bone and the marrow. He observed:
“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”
It appears he knew all too well the cost of discipleship, and had no taste for cheap grace.
As we begin this New Year, let me share with you Chesterton’s challenge for a new day.
The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
May you begin this New Year with a “new soul…backbone…ears…and eyes” and it is my prayer we will be born again the fresh winds of the Spirit blow over us.
Happy New Year!