As the curtain closes on 2015 and dawn breaks on 2016 we may begin to reflect and contemplate in a way that perhaps we do not at any other time of year. Reflection and memories can trigger very powerful reactions and emotions in us. These can be helpful or harmful depending on how we handle them.
CELEBRATE THE PAST AND TREASURE EVERY GOOD MEMORY
I remember the excitement in my heart when, as a little boy, I skipped along at the side of my mum or nanna and made my way to the family home known as 37 Mill Lane, Billingham. The sound of crisp untrodden snow seemed mellow and hushed by the drifts as it crunched under my feet. The smell of fish and chips wrapped in newspaper tantalised my taste buds and made the walk from the top of the lane seem so much further for little legs. This was a typical Sunday evening after a service in the family Church that was experiencing a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit. If only one could go back and savour once again moments etched on the memory that have served to shape the people we have become. I remember being surrounded by the love of an extraordinary family who knew how to love, laugh and cry together as they journeyed through life on route to the higher calling of God.
While we treasure every memory we cannot return to relive any moment that has passed. It was just a few years ago that we as a family drove down the lane and parked where the old house once proudly stood surrounded by mature trees and high hedges. You can still walk through the same garden gate and walk the paths laid by the hand of my grandad. If I was to open the garage door that still stands today I am sure the smell of oil and leather would cascade over my senses and take me back to moments when I would watch my grandad standing at his workbench as he cobbled the family shoes. Sadly the actual house has been replaced by a modern pair of semi-detached homes that are void of character. The building may have gone but my memories linger long.
CULTIVATE THE FUTURE BY SETTING YOUR VISION ON THE ROAD AHEAD
It would be only too possible for me to allow nostalgia and memories of bye-gone days to affect emotions and distract my focus from the future. We rightly celebrate the things God has done in the past but we are called to press on in the purpose of God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit Paul the Apostle wrote these awesome words, Philippians 3 v 12 -14 ………. ‘I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’. The previous verse reveals Paul’s highest goal for his life. ‘I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead’. He speaks of the possibility of the Spirit filled believer living in the power of the resurrection of Christ.
There is a literal, physical resurrection in the future for us, but here Paul is referring to resurrection life being lived while we remain in the body. This is only experienced as our old self is being crucified with Christ. Not a literal crucifixion but a spiritual laying down of ourselves in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. He also refers to the believer walking through times of suffering for the sake of Christ and his purpose. Whatever this year may bring, we all must set our vision on the road ahead. Be it smooth or rough we must live it for the glory of Christ. Sometimes our greatest moments of victory are experienced in the darkest hour. May God empower you to complete everything he has purposed for you in 2016.