Before You Make The List, For Auld Lang Syne (A New Year's Meditation)
As we prepare for the dawn of a new year, I’d like to ask you to briefly step away from your list of resolutions you’ve been contemplating and consider a simple question. Don’t worry, this isn’t a “5 steps for a successful new-year” sort of post, it’s only one question. Here it is: what aspect of God’s creation would you vote to be the most “amazing”? Suspend for a moment the most obvious answers like us, our souls, angels, heaven, hell, etc. There are so many incredible top contenders within God’s physical creation like gravity, planetary rotation, the seasons, physics, even air. Considering all of those worthy answers, I’d like to propose a rather compelling thought: I’ve concluded that my vote for the most amazing aspect of God’s creation would have to be for time. Hands down, time is one of the most incredible things ever contemplated, let alone actually created. I’m sure that you can think of other incredible parts of God’s creation, but simply put, time stands uniquely in a category of its own. So what does this have to do with your New Year’s Resolution list? Let me try to offer a prerequisite consideration before you galvanize and lock in a freshly minted set of commitments.
In all of creation, time has been one of the most worshiped, feared, loved, hated, measured, analyzed, and even sung about things. Anyone out there ever tapped their toe to “If I could turn back time”, or perhaps Dylan’s famous hit “The Times They are A-Changin’”? Though much mystery surrounds it, people throughout generations have understood one clear thing about time – they cannot master or control it. The “amazing” factor can certainly be applied to other (all of them are mind boggling) incredible inventions of God, yet I would argue that the primary difference in most cases is that humans have found ways to harness or attempt to control them (speaking in human terms) – certainly still under the sovereignty of God. Time, however, in the physical creation stands with limited company in a category of things that are simply out of our control. We cannot make it, we cannot gift it, we cannot speed it up or slow it down, and we certainly cannot stop or start it.
Did you realize that time is mentioned more than 700 times in the Bible? As you know, God’s Word is tied together into two major divisions – the Old Testament and the New Testament, split in the middle by time itself, through the incredible advent of the birth of Christ. Augustine accurately calls out God’s orchestration of time and events and in speaking of the two testaments he famously describes it like this: “the new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed”. More specifically, Galatians 4:4 tells us that when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son. The New Testament goes on to expound fully on the profound mystery of Christ and the church, God’s chosen solution to fulfill the law and conquer sin and death once and for all, providing the one and only way to salvation. What’s more amazing, we know that at the appointed time, Christ will return for His church in glory. Mark 13:32-33 tells us “concerning the day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come”. Verse 37 goes on to commend us to “stay awake!”. I don’t know about you, but this keeps me on the edge of my seat constantly. Sometimes it’s easy to be distracted from a proper view of the Kingdom, but God’s watch has not slowed down one bit. Not a moment is lost - He is accomplishing His purpose with each and every single passing second.
This New Years, before you make the resolutions, before you commit to a list of accomplishments that will bring zero glory to the Kingdom of God, I’d like to challenge you to consider why you should work and toil after this list of things. Ecclesiastes 4:4 says: “…then I saw that all of the toil and skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind”. The author goes on in verse 6 to say: “Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind”. I’m afraid that much of our activity in the light of eternity will look like a “striving after wind”. Over the last year, our aim as a church body has been to focus our “strivings” squarely on spiritual disciplines that will bring Glory to God: Storing God’s Word in our heart, abiding in His Word, delighting in it, and obeying Him. If your new year’s resolutions don’t fall into one of those categories, I’d encourage you to reconsider your list. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. As they say, time is marching on, and as of today we are each one day closer to eternity – the finish line of our race.
There’s a popular tune often sung this time of year called For Auld Lang Syne. Loosely translated from its Scottish origins, it means “for the sake of old times”. My plea to you this year is to make your resolutions count for eternity, for the sake of old times: 2 millennia ago to be more specific. Jesus Christ, the Word became flesh, lived a sinless life that you and I could not live, and died the death that we deserved – a righteous sacrifice, made once for all time, to be the propitiation for our sin. He is coming again in Glory, soon. Don’t spend another year striving after the wind, with a self-serving list of resolutions. Make every second count for eternity. For Auld Lang Syne, my friend… For Auld Lang Syne.