Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: New Year

The Gate of the Year

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I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known Way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
So heart be still, what need our little life, our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things both high and low,
God hideth his intention.
God Knows. His will Is best.
The stretch of years which wind ahead, so dim to our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God, our fears are premature;
In Him all time hath full provision.
Then rest; until God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes, when, as the sweeter features
Of life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise God’s thought around His creatures
Our minds shall fill.

-Minnie Louise Haskins

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Hitherto hath the LORD helped us

What is it that prompts us to want to make resolutions about all the things we want to do better in the coming year? Isn’t it the consciousness of all the ways that we have failed to live up to what we wanted to be and do in the past year? Why do we think we have it in our power to do better in the new year?

But has the Lord ever failed us? Why not look back at the year that is ending and remember the many ways in which He has helped us, and then go forward into the new year with the confidence that He will once more lead us to many victories, large and small?

As the children of Israel wandered through the wilderness for forty years, it seemed the men who came out of Egypt could not remember from one day to the next how the Lord had helped them. They continually complained to Moses, “Why have you brought us into this wilderness so that our children will die here?” But it was the fathers who had come out of Egypt who died in the wilderness because every time a new difficulty presented itself they could not believe that God could help them.

It was the children who grew up in the wilderness who entered the Promised Land, those born in Egypt and those born in the wilderness. They saw God working continually to help and sustain them and trusted He would continue to do so. They crossed the Jordan and in just four battles they had control of all the land.

Two of those who had been adult men when they left Egypt survived to enter the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Caleb was the older, he had been forty when they left Egypt and was eighty when they came into the land. As Joshua was dividing the land, Caleb came to him and said, “Remember that mountain where we saw the giants? Give me that mountain, if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.” And so he did, it doesn’t even sound like it was much of a battle.

May we enter the new year with the faith of Caleb, remembering that “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us,” and trusting that He will continue to help us.

If the Lord will

I had planned to begin my first post of the New Year with this thought even before the event that I will mention later.  I don’t find it useful to make New Year’s Resolutions – like most people I can’t keep them anyway.  I could declare that  I resolve to lose 40 pounds in 2014.  That sounds like a great idea, what are the odds of it happening?

I have aspirations, things I would really like to do in the coming year.  Eating less and exercising more would be part of that, not with a specific weight loss goal, but with a desire to be more active and healthy.

I would like to finish a couple of books over the coming twelve months.  One will be fairly short – the history of a congregation that existed 100 years ago, and the disagreements that scattered the members.  The other will be a compilation of some of the posts on this blog about my personal history of becoming a Christian and then becoming a member of the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite.

I said a compilation, but it will be more of a complete rewrite, to make the story coherent and to make it readable.  Those who read this blog will have noticed the typos and uneven quality that are due to posting before I take time to reflect on what I’ve written.  What I’m doing is putting this stuff out on the public square to see if anyone notices and what they notice.

All my plans are subject to that little phrase “if the Lord will.”  I really don’t know what kinds of surprises the coming year may bring.  Experience tells me there will be both joy and sorrow, and that I need the grace of God to cope with both.

We had a forceful reminder of the reality of “if the Lord will” on New Years Eve.  Our daughter cooked at Silverwood Villa that day and after supper she began making the traditional Mennonite New Year’s cookies.  They are small deep fried fritters dusted with icing sugar.  Perhaps they are called cookies because the original Ukrainian name is too hard to pronounce.

A dozen of us were sitting around visiting,, playing games and eating New Year’s cookies when the phone rang at 10 p.m.  It was a message on our congregation’s automated calling service, informing us that brother Dave Fehr had died of a heart attack.  Dave and his wife, both 77, returned home at 7 p.m. from visiting their children in Manitoba.  Dave went back out to shovel the snow from in front of the garage door in order to park the van inside.  When he didn’t come back in, his wife looked out to check and saw him lying on the doorstep.  Life was already gone.

Dave lost two wives to cancer.  His third wife was a widow when she married him.  The extended family was huge and they loved nothing better than to travel to visit them all.  Dave lived at peace with God and with his fellow men.  He had a medical checkup a few weeks earlier and the doctor found no cause for concern.  None of us have any guarantees.  “Ye know not what shall be on the morrow” (James 4:14).

Hitherto hath the LORD helped us

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).  I have had some experience in tilling the soil and have learned the danger of looking back to admire the straight furrow I have made.  When I stopped looking forward, the furrow began to swerve from its intended path.

Looking back to enumerate my accomplishments over the past year would probably have the same effect.  Even more so if I would see little to boast of and begin to blame others for my lack of accomplishments.

However, I do see much evidence of how the Lord has helped us through the past year.  I have Macular Degeneration that required repeated injections of Lucentis directly into the eyes over several years.  It is almost three years since the last injection and I now only need to go for a checkup once a year.  It was frightening to receive the diagnosis six years ago, then the Lord gave me an assurance that “there will be a way.”

My wife was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia earlier this year.  After many tests she has also been told that her condition is stable and only needs to be monitored once per year.

We have not accumulated much in the way of material goods over the years, but we have accumulated many friends.  We keep in contact with people in places where we have lived and places we have visited.  I count it a special privilege to have corresponded with three missionary couples (two in the Philippines, one in Cameroun) over the past few years.  All three of the wives were toddlers when we first met 35 years ago as we moved to Ontario.  It has been a few years since we have seen them, and we have never seen their children, but it is a blessing to know that those little girls have grown into fine Christian women.

We are still learning new things, new skills, making new friends.  We are growing in faith, and in faithfulness.  Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.  I want to face the future with that calm assurance.

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