Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year Profundity (or not)

Expectations are that the first post on the first day of a new year should be profound. Perhaps a thoughtful retrospective on the year gone by, or meditations regarding the days to come. When the date rolls around to "1/1", such things are de rigueur.

I'll try not to disappoint, but no guarantees.

Things are rather low-key around home today - we had our New Year's Eve party last night, and today the kids are mostly recovering by sleeping. The day began on a chilly note when I rose to find that the furnace had been switched off the night before (fortunately it just needed to be switched back on). After that I dealt with balky tub drains and balky routers (for some of my household, the router is the greater of those problems), and then got some pizza and watched a movie we rented. After I post this, I'm going to get around to some thank-you notes. A quiet day all in all.

But morning prayers provided an opportunity to do some thinking. Every year as I swap out my old ordo (i.e. schedule of readings) with the new one, I look at the thick bulk of pages covering the upcoming year and wonder what those days and months will bring. I've done this for years, and it seems like just yesterday that I was looking at the pages for 2008, wondering what experiences would accompany those readings. Now I can look back on them and attest: the experience of God's goodness and provision. I honestly don't know how we made it through this past year financially (as my tax return can witness), yet somehow here we are. Of course, it's been this way for 2½ years or so now - maybe I'm supposed to get accustomed to it. I'd like to be able to stop fretting and sweating over financial matters, but that's very hard, even when the Lord is giving extensive practical lessons in His provision. Maybe that'll be something I can focus on in 2009 - being less fidgety about how or when God is going to provide and simply trusting that He'll keep doing so, as He's proven He can do (however He does it). Not that I'd be casual about any work He put before me, or ungrateful to friends and family who have helped us out, but I'd work on trying to be a bit less frenzied about living so close to the edge. It seems to be where the Lord wants me living.

Of course, looking at the pages of 2009 made me wonder about the year to come. Many are gravely concerned about the upcoming year - financially, politically, socially, and in many other ways it looks like a very challenging time. As someone whose small business has been struggling for nearly three years, living in a state that never emerged from the last recession and whose major industries are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, it would seem that I have more cause for worry than most. As mentioned, I hope the lessons of the past years will help me be more trusting about God's provision - in fact, part of me wonders if these past years have been faith toning lessons, for my own sake and for the sake of others who I might encourage. But more than even this, I wondered what I'd like to accomplish in this upcoming year.

For me, the answer is simple: I'd like to reflect Christ better to those around me. I'll consider it progress if toward the end of the year, when others look at me, they can see Christ more clearly than they did at the beginning. My great example is St. John the Baptist - the man who knew that he was a herald, and that he didn't matter; that his message was everything. It was he who rejoiced to see Christ's coming, and trumpeted to his disciples, "He must become greater, and I must become less!" What total self-abandonment and unselfconsciousness! What abasement of pride and ego! What utter trust in his Master, that he didn't worry about his ministry or impact or résumé, but threw himself recklessly into his mission, leaving it to Jesus to sort out the final details. That's the attitude I'd like to have. Maybe I'll get more of it in the year to come.

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