It’s the eve of 2022, and judging by the various internet memes I’ve seen, many people are facing this year with trepidation:
And with the passing of Betty White today, I can only imagine what the memes will say now! For the last couple years, ever since the pandemic started, negativity seems to be the trend. There’s so much more fear out there than there is hope. And really, it’s been going on for a long time. I looked it up, and the last time the majority of the country believed we were on the right track was 2002. None of my students in school have ever lived in a time when people were generally happy with the way things were.
Yet, I’m not getting into the despair game. If the Lord tarries, and if we live, we are going into a new year and we’ve got to make the most of it. Time marches on, no matter what. Just today I talked to an adult businessman who said, “You were my substitute teacher when I was in high school.” I can remember being at a small ceremony my freshman year of high school in which I received my “number”--you remember the one that goes on the sleeve of your letterman jacket?–for scholastic bowl, and when Coach Butler handed out the ones with “02” printed on them he said, “Class of 2002, you don’t know how old that makes me feel.” I didn’t then, but I do now. The first class of 7th graders I had when I started teaching full time at Fountain Central are juniors now. I’m not sure I would recognize most of them. I have a son that is a teenager, and other kids that wish they were. But time doesn’t stop, the years just speed by.
I haven’t bought into the idea that 2020 or 2021 were horrible years. I could make a compelling case that 2019 was the worst year I ever had. I had the most severe case of the flu I ever had, spent the majority of that year in a fruitless and financially difficult job search, and ended the year by suffering the worst and most debilitating in a 20 year series of knee injuries. Yet that was also the year I started “filling in” at Hoopeston Area Middle School, and that’s led to a great job, with some great colleagues, and some great students.
Life is full of surprises, good and bad. Over and over the last two years, I have become discouraged with our nation’s politics, our multi-directional moral disintegration, and, have, of course, muttered over and over again, “I hate COVID.” But the truth is God has blessed me with an amazing wife, with wonderful kids, a great extended family, and church family–two church families!-- that has been a blessing to me I can’t describe. I actually see the churches I serve as being on the right track, and that’s by the grace of God, not by our works–certainly not by mine. In the meantime, I have had two knee surgeries that have corrected a problem that 20 years ago the doctors told me was unfixable, and I continue to walk and stand better each and every day.
I read somewhere recently that we spend too much time trying to figure out the will of God, rather than doing the will of God. For some people this means constantly wondering why God allows certain things to happen and, on the other hand, does not say “yes” in answer to what seem to us to be very important prayers, indeed. I don’t pretend to know the answers to this. But I do know that in 2022, I can still be faithful to him and “do the next right thing.” So I’ll begin this year with a call and a promise, both from the living God:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.”--Proverbs 3:5, 6
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”--Romans 8:28
So, by God's grace, I say "Welcome, 2022"! Have a Happy New Year! May the peace of Christ dwell in you richly this year and beyond!