A New Year Dawns

A new year is a kind of great divide between past and present. Newness always brings with it the hope of improvement. The needs are complex; the task is formidable.

Let us, in view of the complex needs of our time, affirm our own potential. God has endowed each one of us with exciting raw materials capable of actualization. The challenge of Christianity is not to become a third-rate imitation of somebody else. It is to become the best we are capable of becoming.

But in order to affirm our own potential through difficult days, a second positive furnishing is required – that is to affirm God’s power. And what do I mean by that? I mean that we are to say “yes” to the faith that the God who has endowed us with the dynamically exciting raw materials of our beings, at the same time actively and relevantly supports us with the powers and the processes necessary to actualize the best of our human natures.

Yet, I wonder. How many of us consciously and consistently affirm God’s supportive powers and processes? In problematical matters ranging from personal health to world politics, how much of the time most of us are tempted to fret as if we are spiritual orphans dropped on the rotting doorsill of an abandoned planet? Too often we suffer from chronic defeatism, we stand trembling before every Promised Land like the Israelite spies, so obsessed with the giants who walk across it that we lose sight of God’s glories waiting for us within it.

God makes it possible for us to reverse that process, to fix our gaze not on our problems, which are real, but upon His powers – which are real too. Very practically – when death’s democratic fingers invade the privacy of our family circles, we are empowered to concentrate not on the valley of the shadow but upon the Shepherd of the valley, not on the grief to which we have discovered we are vulnerable, but on the love of which God has made us capable. In the time of disappointment – in people or propositions – we focus not on the illusions which we have lost, but upon the lessons which we have learned. When counterfeit messiahs parade their panaceas before gullible disciples, we see beyond their weekend fame the Eternal God standing with plumb line of justice and righteousness in His steady hand.

God who endowed us with the exciting dynamics of our own potentials surrounds us with the powers and the processes necessary to the actualization of these potentials. It is the doxology in the letter to the Ephesians: “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

Why circumscribe God by our petty presuppositions of what God is likely to do or is capable of doing? Why confine God within our cramping negative expectations? Let us let God be free as He is and set our own faith soaring with repeated affirmations.

It a year certain to be filled with many uncertainties, guaranteed to confront us with spiritually enervating experiences, the effective way to beat the negative is to accentuate the positive. Let us affirm our own potential, God’s power and the fixed point of our faith – the Christ through whom God reveals himself and us. It will equip the home of our souls with those furnishings necessary to an ever-brighter and more abundant life.

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