Once again, we have journeyed through another year – and we are still on this earth. Time is passing rapidly. It has taken us with it. It has left its mark on us and in our being. We have experienced all the great upheavals in the life of nations, for the world has become small, and what takes place on one side of the earth has an effect on the other.
Hope, expectation, concern, and sorrow have moved our hearts – sometimes in rapid alternation – to the point where we have to wonder how a heart can endure all the tensions and burdens at all.
Not all have endured. Many hearts have stopped beating, perhaps even in our closest circle of life, and we have not yet overcome the pain of loss. Tangible gaps have remained.
Every day held a burden. We have had to carry them. But now, in retrospect, we are grateful. We were able to carry everything only because we ourselves were carried.
Nothing came upon us by chance. It was God Himself who laid the burden on us, and in doing so He tested our faith. It should grow!
This happens during the time that He gives us throughout the duration of our life. This time is God’s time and, therefore, it is so precious. It is the gift of His hand, which He alone has at His disposal, for our benefit, that we would increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).
It is in this perspective that all the shortfalls appear. Where fruits of faith ought to be, and from God’s point of view could be, there is nothing in the way of fruit. How much failure, stagnation, or even decline there is! What will the Lord say to this? What will we answer when He says, “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” (Luke 13:7). Isn’t the Lord right?
Our time is in God’s hands, and the quiet hours of New Year’s Eve are there for us to reflect on all this and listen to the Lord anew. He has not withdrawn His Word from us yet. He is still speaking. There is still time, His time, and therefore also our time. We must utilize it wisely!
In the parable of the barren fig tree we read: “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well” (Luke 13:8-9).
Another year, then, a year of grace. Newly-given life, newly-given time. The Lord wants to do what He can. We are to receive only what He gives, as the tree with its roots receives the water and the strength of the soil.
What a perspective! What a Lord! To Him be thanks and honor and praise that He provides us with His time for this purpose once again!
P. Ernst Senf