It was New Year’s Day. I sat at the edge of the ocean and I watched the many beach goers. I was stuck by how their behaviors so represented the many approaches we may take as we dive into the waters of a new year. As you examine your approach to the New Year, can you relate to any of these scenarios?

  • There was the young girl who bravely ran toward the incoming waves only to squawk like a sea gull as she ran back up the sand away from the approaching water.
  • There were the parents who stood clear of the water, never to participate in the joy of the waves, but only video taped the activities.
  • Others never went near the water, only soaking up the sun as they snoozed on their beach towels.
  • Surfers had paddled their way out into the surf, many simply bobbing with their boards.  Few ever catching a wave that would carry them to shore.
  • Some sat in their beach chairs and watched the day pass them by. To them the water was only a beautiful view, nothing more.
  • Then there was the pre-teen boy who strolled straight into the water, goggles in hand. With each wave that approach he braced himself and leaned his shoulder into the wave standing strong against the force of the water. Walking out further, he placed the goggles over his eyes and changed his stance to directly face the water. Now as the waves came toward him, he lowered his head into the wave allowing it to pass over him and he safely emerged on the other side.

I would like to think I am taking on the year like the pre-teen boy took on the waves. I would like to think I am walking straight into the challenges ahead with Bible in hand. I would like to think I am prepared to bow headfirst into whatever situation arises, allowing it to pass over as I am brought safely out the other side.

I fear, however, I am more like the squawking girl as I turn and run never experiencing the joy of over coming the challenge laid before me.  Or worse, I am more like the sun soaker never even to consider taking on a challenge, unaware of the joy I am missing.

We optimistically look toward the new year. This year surely will be better than the last. Yet, in our heart of hearts, we know that the world is full of problems and a new year really only produces a new calendar and does not change our daily lives.

Whatever it is that will be or has been a challenge, we can be confident that with Christ we can be like the pre-teen boy no matter what difficult situation comes our way. We are told in John 16:33,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If Christ has overcome the world, He can overcome anything.

The Psalmist, David, explains his joy and strength in Psalm 28:6-7,

“Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.

My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

As we look at the waters ahead we can be like David. We can be prepared with Bible in hand. We can take on boldly whatever challenges we face. It is the joy that Christ brings that will refresh and sustain us now and for eternity always knowing that like Nehemiah we can say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

JW