Living Within The Boundaries Of The New Year And The Christmas Season

It doesn’t take one long to figure out that we are people that like to live within certain boundaries. And here I am speaking of the boundaries of a start and finish. We enjoy starting, heading out into something new, and we look forward to finishing the course or task that we have set out on. We start books, and feel unsettled if we don’t finish them, though they might be terrible reads. We start movies, and finish those, whether they are good or bad. We start races in the blocks, and our goal is to cross the finish line bursting across the tape. And we are people who read a Bible with a beginning, Genesis, and with an ending in Revelation. Start. Finish.

As we approach the end of the year we are quickly approaching another finish that we started almost 12 months ago. Some of us started last January 1 with high hopes about the start we would have, and the accomplishments that the finish of 2004 would bring us. And we are looking forward to the fruit of that labor. Others started the 2004 year on January 1 with the same desires, but as we look back, we wonder went wrong, and are even having questions about whether or not we will finish this year out at all.

Luckily for you and I, we worship a God who is not only into starting something, but into finishing it as well. In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul proclaims to the church in Philippi, “I think my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:3-6).

Did you catch that? Partnership. You and I as followers of Christ are in this journey, this race (I Cor. 9:24-27) together, in partnership, not only with each other, but with Christ. In fact, we have an advantage, as we come to realize that the One who began this work in us, who started us out on our journey, is also the One who will carry us through to the completion of the journey. From start to finish, we are in partnership with Christ, the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8), the One who knows no beginning (John 1) or end.

Every year we are given a new chance to start over. To start the new year, with so many uknown things, and to finish it at the end. So why is it that every year we start off with such good intentions to do things different? Maybe spend more time with family. Maybe spend more time with friends. Maybe set better boundaries at work. Maybe volunteer your time. Or maybe we determine not to be so concerned with our looks and body image as we were the last year, but instead, we have made the resolution to spend more time with God, in His word (I Timothy 4:8).

We are all full with good intentions as we are about to close the chapter and finish up another year. And we are excited about starting a new year and the propsect of a new and exciting life that awaits us. But as this year winds down, take some time to reflect on this past year, and the things you succeeded in, and the things you failed in. Take some time to reflect on your relationship with God, and what part He did or didn’t play this last year. Most of us will be able to look back if we are honest with ourselves, and see all the things that we took out of God’s hands, and tried to do on our own. We had a willing partnership with the One who knows us more intimately than anyone else. With the One who started the things in our life we are passionate about, and the One who will bring those things to an end. But eventually, going too long without that partnership leaves all of us exhausted, tired and worn out in many, many ways. So in this New Year that is upon us, resolve to make God a bigger part of your life, realizing that He is your life, and your start to finish will only be as successful and rewarding as the partnership you carry on with Him.

And like the people in Philippi, remember too, that God has put people in your life, in your community to be in partnership with you. You are not to go this next year alone, but in partnership with the community that God has blessed you with.

The Scriptures seem to teach us about relationship, about being in partnership with each other, whether it’s the relationship of David and Jonathan (I Samuel 20), to the fellowship of the disciples. And there is no more poignant moment than the relationship/partnership between God and Jesus (Col. 1), or the union of the Trinity (Mark 1:9-11) at the baptism of Jesus.

So head out this year in partnership and relationship with God and the community around you, so that the journey between the beginning and the end of 2005 will be more fulfilling.

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