A Time to Look Back and Ahead

27 Dec

These last few days of the year always seem like a time to look back at what has happened during the year and look at hopes and dreams for the year to come.  Of course, I am a simple person and my looking back and forward are much the same.  I am just grateful for God’s presence with me and believe that it will be there in the year to come.

I like Psalm 49 for looking to the reality of our lives and our dependence on God’s grace.   The psalmist wants to get your attention first:

“1-2 Listen, everyone, listen—
earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

3-4 I set plainspoken wisdom before you,
my heart-seasoned understandings of life.
I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise,
I solve life’s riddle with the help of a harp.”

So, we know we are going to get some wisdom which is helpful to anyone – rich/poor, old/young, men/women.

“5-6 So why should I fear in bad times,
hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
demeaned by the arrogant rich?”

For me that is always the question.  Why should I fear anything, if God and me are good?

“7-9 Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
against the Black Hole.”

I really like this part of the psalm.  For some reason, as human beings, we believe we can take care of our own lives.  That we can figure out what we should do, we can develop kindness or patience or wisdom from our own abilities.  Also, there is the proclamation that God is the one who can rescue and give us life forever.

“10-11 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
And to think they named counties after themselves!

12 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.”

This is my favorite part of the psalm.  The reality of the brief nature of our lives.  It is true for every being on the planet; we have a limited time to make a difference in our world.  I really like verse 12 which also closes out the psalm “Like our dogs, we age and weaken and die.”  It sounds dark and depressing, but living with older adults it is the absolute truth.

“13-15 This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing—
nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
he reaches down and grabs me.”

The last two stanzas of this psalm continue to challenge us to remember that the choices in our lives will make a difference after our death.

“16-19 So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
where they’ll never see sunshine again.

20 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.”

As I live with my parents and hear their frustrations about the limitation that come with aging, I ask them what they expected.

So I guess that is my question to you.  What are you expecting from God and from yourselves in the coming year.  For me, I hope to cling closely to God and try to figure it out as I greet each day.  Peace.

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One Response to “A Time to Look Back and Ahead”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger December 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Dearest Mary,

    Thanks for your words of wisdom. I, too, seek in this new year God’s peace and understanding, especially as I age and look for a new calling beyond motherhood and community service.

    May your new year bring good health and joy to you!

    Love,
    Phyllis

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