I love new beginnings. There is just something fresh about a new beginning. A new year ~ a chance to redefine what is really important (and what is really not). To reflect on the past and look forward to what lies ahead.
I have to admit, I haven't always looked forward to the future, sometimes I have faced it with a hefty dose of dread sprinkled with anxiety (and some doom & gloom on the side just for fun). But not this year...I am looking forward to 2007 with hope, anticipation, and peace. It's nice! What exactly am I looking forward to? Hmmm...well whatever God has planned for me.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
There is so much promise packed into that verse. I read it alot, and have since I was about 18 - the first time someone brought it to my attention. It really encouraged me. The problem is, it's taken me a long, long time to really believe and understand what it is saying. It's so easy to be hopeful when things are going my way. It's when life is smackin' me around a bit that I go "Hey, God - what's up with that? What about that promise You gave me? This is SO not what I wanted!" Therein lies the problem...the "I". The promise isn't "For I know the plans you have for yourself", but rather "I know the plans I have for you". I'm beginning to realize that the plans that God has for my life are so much more prosperous than the plans I make for myself.
He knows what is best for me, and what will bring me true joy and happiness. He also knows what I think will make me happy - and like the wise father that He is, He quite often says "no". What kind of a parent would He be if He gave me everything I wanted, all the time? I know how dangerous that would be with my boys (think sleep deprived, sugar buzzed maniacs playing baseball in my living room). Not only would it be destructive, it would be unloving.
Just like my boys don't have the maturity and insight to see the wisdom in being told "no", neither do I. How many times have I ignored God's "no" and chased after something that I thought would make me happy, only to find that when I finally get what I wanted so badly the excitement quickly fades. it wasn't nearly as great as I imagined. I am left disillusioned, empty. So I do what any mature christian would do - I throw a tantrum with God. "This is not what i wanted! How could You do this to me? Why won't you give me what I want??? Waa waa waa!" And off I go, stomping and pouting, and looking for something (or someone) to fill the void. The cycle starts all over again...and all the while God is standing there patiently saying "but that's not what I had in mind for you. MY plans for you will prosper you and not harm you. MY plans for you will give you hope. MY plans for you will give you a future." He invites us to come to Him, talk to Him, and He will listen.
And the whole key to this verse lies in the end..."you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." He doesn't necessarily respond when we hop up on His lap like He's the big cosmic santa claus, tell Him what we want, and then go our own way expecting our stockings to be filled. He wants us to seek Him with all of our heart. To seek the Giver, not the gift. That's when the blessings begin to pour out. More than we had even hoped for.
So that's why I have this hope for the upcoming year. I know that I can ask God for whatever my heart desires (and I have some things in mind). He may very well say yes (I know the joy of saying yes to my boys!) But I know that if He says no, I can rest in the assurance that He's got something even better than I had asked for. So if you hear me tantruming in the next room, please remind me of this.