Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 34 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “New Year Coming!”
Also, be sure to scroll/listen all the way to the end of today’s episode for a special announcement about the posting schedule for the next year. I’ve sensed the need for several weeks to make a few changes, which I explain below.
In just a few days the calendar pages will turn to January, 2022. A new year inevitably brings opportunities to reflect on experiences of the quickly-fading “old year,” and maybe even some of those infamous “New Year’s Resolutions” as we look ahead.
Many years ago I discovered that the first month of our calendar—January—was named for the pagan Roman god Janus. Statues of Janus depict a human-like figure with two faces—one looking forward, the other looking backwards.
A quick review of our individual and corporate experiences through the course of 2021 will reveal many events—both positive and negative.
Personally, I’ve learned new things that have helped me face the daily challenges of life, but I’ve also encountered some situations I’d just as soon never see again! I suspect your journey might be quite similar. So, I won’t load you down with my story, but I will encourage you to open the door to memory’s hall to consider God’s blessings, His providence, and presence on YOUR walk to the Kingdom.
I’m sure the Holy Spirit will be your guide, opening your mind to insight and growth in grace each step of the way into and through the new year, 2022.
So, instead of making a list of incidents and observations I’ve gleaned from the year just passed, I’ve decided to share with you some words I find wise and instructive. These words come from a woman author who wrote in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The influence of her books, magazine articles, personal letters, and Christian counsel continues even today. Some of her work has been translated into well over 100 languages around the world! Her insights have inspired the establishment of hospitals, schools, churches, clinics and a myriad of other ministries.
I’m speaking, of course, of Ellen G. White, one of the early founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Here are the few paragraphs from her pen I want to share with you today as we near the end of 2021, published in the flagship journal of the SDA church—Review and Herald—on December 11, 1888.
We are nearing the close of another year. Christmas and New Year’s will soon be here. Let us candidly and carefully review our life during the year that is about to pass, with its burden of history, into eternity, and consider the many tokens we have had of the favor of God in the blessings He has bestowed upon us. The most unspeakable gift which God could bestow upon the world was the Gift of His beloved Son.
We do not half appreciate the grandeur of the plan of salvation. He who was one with the Father stepped down from the glorious throne in heaven, laid aside His royal robe and crown, and clothed His divinity with humanity, thus bringing Himself to the level of man’s feeble faculties. “For your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” Infinite was the sacrifice on the part of the Father; infinite the sacrifice of the Son! The highest gift that Heaven could bestow was given to ransom fallen humanity. O, what divine benevolence! It would have been far easier to crush the world out of existence than to reform it. But Christ declares, “The Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” The Son of God understood the desperate situation, and Himself came to our world, that humanity through Him might have eternal life. Son of the Most High though He was, He submitted Himself to insult, mockery, and a cruel death because He loved human beings, and would save them from ruin. But, as if determined to cut themselves off from all communication with Heaven, as if scorning God’s mercy and defying Omnipotence, the world whom He came to save, crucified the Lord of glory. Can we, my dear brethren and sisters, behold such love, such infinite sacrifice, unmoved? O, what abundant resources divine power has provided for the fallen race!
Let us look to Jesus, and see the amazing love for fallen humanity of which the cross of Calvary gives evidence. The great sacrifice has been made, and Christ has purchased men and women at an infinite cost. ‘Ye are bought with a price,’ even the precious blood of the Son of God. And now Jesus says, ‘I have claims upon the human heart . . . .’ Thus He asserts His ownership of the consciences of human beings.
2022 Arrives This Week
So, it’s just a few more days and 2021 drops into that historical dustbin forever. The few paragraphs I just shared with you were written over 134 years ago. Time keeps marching on, and a lot of us never imagined we would live to the age we have now reached—whatever that number might be for you!
As I close out this last episode of the podcast/blog for 2021, I decided to share a memorable New Year’s Eve story from about 40 years ago. Ruth and I were the pastoral couple for a little congregation on the banks of the Columbia River, where great waterway flows past a small town, Irrigon, Oregon.
We had purchased a couple of acres a few miles out of town where we lived with our two young children. A three-bedroom, two-bath double-wide mobile home provided comfortable housing for us.
The Irrigon church building in town was very small, and very old. There was no room at the church for me to use as a functional office/study, so I had blocked off the end of our living room in the double-wide as a place for my desk, bookshelves, and other office needs. This reduced the living room to about half of what it normally would have been otherwise.
Our Irrigon church was warm and friendly. The congregation included several families with school-age children, and the predominant spirit of the church family was upbeat and very positive.
Ruth and I decided to invite the whole church out to our “farm” to spend the evening together and welcome in the New Year at midnight. It was pretty cold that night, so everyone crowded into our diminished living room, visiting, laughing together, and sharing stories. Most of the kids were outside playing in the snow. The cold didn’t seem to bother them much.
We had a tall grandfather clock standing in a corner of the living room. As the time drew near we called all the young people in to get warmed up, so we could all be together when the clock began chiming at midnight. We stood together, holding hands while we waited the last few minutes. During the last remaining minute of the old year, I picked up my guitar, and strumming quietly I began to sing. The others blended their voices with mine. It was a moment to be remembered forever.
“The chimes of time ring out the news, another YEAR is through. Someone slipped and fell. Was that someone you? You may have longed for added strength, your courage to renew. Do not be disheartened, for I bring hope to you.
“It is no secret what God can do. What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you. With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you. It is no secret what God can do!”
And, here we are at the end of another 365 days, finishing another trip around the sun on this planet called “Earth.” Just to state the obvious, we’re all older now than we were just one year ago. We have learned some new things, lost some dear friends and family, gained some experience—both positive, some negative—and we’re different now than then.
The message of that song, “It Is No Secret What God Can Do,” might be speaking to your heart right now as midnight, December 31 approaches. It’s a perfect opportunity to renew your faith in God’s promise of forgiveness, pardon, and grace.
Why wait? Now is the perfect moment. Remember, what He’s done for others, He’ll do for you! May you know His presence and power as you step across this annual threshold into a brand new year ahead!
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
Now, before I sign off for today I need to let you know what’s coming for the GoodlifeNews! Podcast and Blog beginning in January. I’ve followed a weekly schedule for each episode ever since I launched the podcast on May 2, 2021, with the one exception when a two-day hospital stay delayed me for a week.
This schedule has proved to be quite challenging. I love communicating with each of you in this forum, but I’ve found it necessary to make some changes as we enter the new year. So, I have dialed back to publication schedule from once weekly to once monthly. In 2022, each episode will drop on the last Monday of each month now, instead of every weekly Monday as we have done through 2021 since May.
On a related personal note, I truly appreciate those of you who have followed/listened to the GoodlifeNews! in 2021. Your numbers are not large, but each one of you is treasured! Thank you everyone for your faithfulness and encouragement in this ministry!
Here’s to a great spiritual journey in 2022 as we travel the highway to the Kingdom! I hope you can join me for next month’s episode which will post on Monday, January 31.
Be sure to watch for the announcement in your email or online. Mark your calendar, and invite someone else to listen with you!
Are you ready? Let’s go!!