Nearing the end of every year, I sit on the same chair in my living room with the same song playing in an effort to write a kind but firm “thanks and goodbye” to the last three-hundred and sixty something days. It’s not like anything really changes between December 31st and January 1st, I know, but there’s something very powerful about watching one thing end and another begin. A new year offers new perspective. A new page. A new beginning. Whatever happened still happened but it happened last year. A new year offers an opportunity to say goodbye.
What a gift to be able to say goodbye!
What a gift to forget what lies behind, as the apostle Paul wrote.
My 2014 was full of some wonderful highs and difficult lows. I ran away from God a lot because I was afraid he’d tell me to do something I didn’t want to do. I was scared to listen, scared of what he’d say. Not because I think he’s awful, but because I’m not confident I hear his voice. In the Spring I thought he asked me to go to graduate school, then in August I thought he asked me to go to New York City, and now I’m fairly sure he’s asked me to stay in Nashville. Sometimes I think he’s called me to pursue music and other times I think I’m supposed to give everything away and move to a remote village in Asia. There have been times I’ve thought he’s called me to celibacy and other times I’m positive he wants me to get married and have a dozen kids. Sometimes I think he’s just waiting for me to take the next step and other times I think he’s waiting for me to stop moving and simply listen. Many mornings I wake up with a keen awareness of how deeply he loves me and other mornings I’m certain I’m less valuable to him than the cat that stares from my neighbor’s window at night.
Like I said… Many highs, many lows.
And I’ve grown from it all, I’m sure. Even for all my running, I haven’t catapulted myself off a (spiritual) bridge or anything, which only speaks to how miraculous his mercy really is. You see, my year of running points to the faithfulness I’ve experienced in spite of my faithlessness. It only serves to glorify God’s consistent character, steadfast grace, and constant affection in the midst of my fickle love for him. My failures only magnify his grace. My weakness only proves his strength.
So then… What to do with it all?
First, I say goodbye to 2014 and make space for a new year.
And then, forgetting what lies behind, I run.
Not to the past. Not to the left. Not to the right.
I run ahead to 2015.
Pressing on towards eternity.
Towards the goal.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.