“Let’s Wrap It Up, People”
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
Exodus 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
The concept of an old year ending and a new year beginning is very literally older than humanity. On the fourth day of creation, two days before God made man, he made the sun, moon, and stars. And when he did, here is what he said about them in Genesis 1:14, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”
Different cultures have, through the years, had different start and end dates for their years. After all, the sun does not exactly have a line on it marking the start and finish line for our yearly lap around it. For nearly 500 years now, though, the last day of December and the first day of January have marked that line for us.
And we are nearly there again.
As our years go by, they very much seem to be picking up speed, do they not? When we were children, the space between one Christmas/New Year and the next lasted around 3.7 years, give or take. Now, it seems like the years are rapidly punching us in the face, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot style.
Anyway, since this year is about to end and the new year is about to begin, it seems like a good opportunity to tie up some loose ends and make some good plans for the New Year. So here, then, is my faith-based advice on that.
One, perhaps the most obvious, it would be a great idea to not carry bitterness with you into the new year. I read an obituary this week from 2018 in which two adult children left a scathing obituary for their mother. She had abandoned them to go be with a man, and they were raised by her parents. They definitely got the last word in the obituary; it was entertaining but in the saddest kind of way. But oh, the years of bitterness those words represent! Forgiveness is as much or more for the benefit of the one who gives it than it is for the one who receives it.
Two, and also pretty obvious, this is a good time to evaluate your health and fitness and make even radical changes if needed. As I say in my workout videos, “God gave you one life, one body. It is a gift from his hands, and you do not get another. So keep yourself as strong as you can, as fit as you can, as healthy as you can for as long as you can, so you can serve the Lord as well as you can.”
These are not idle words to me. I could drop dead of a heart attack or most anything else tomorrow, but as of right now, at age fifty-three, I am on no medication of any kind, have no health issues, can bench press 315 pounds pretty consistently, and can still walk a pretty narrow balance beam. Our church has seemingly caught on to this, and in the last year, a good many of our people have changed their eating habits, started working out, and collectively lost hundreds if not thousands of pounds of weight.
Three, now is the perfect time to make sure that you do not just know about Jesus but actually know Jesus; there is a difference. Jesus told a very religious and moral man, Nicodemus, “ye must be born again,” and that applies to everyone. If you have never repented of your sin and trusted the risen Christ as your Lord and Savior, nothing is more important than you doing so.
Four, this is a great time to get your entire family in church. Maybe you have been out for a while, maybe you have never been. But Christ prizes the church, and there is help and encouragement to be found there that exceeds any other place on earth.
Five, the end of one year and the beginning of the next is a crucial time for you to watch out for others. After twenty-six years of pastoring, I can tell you confidently that depression and even suicide risk often dramatically increase this time of year. And all it may take is a phone call or visit from you to cheer someone up and keep them from doing something that cannot be undone.
Six, this is a great time to apologize for something you have done or said that hurt someone else. Pick up the phone, make the call, and tell them that you were wrong and don’t want to go into a new year without making things right.
Seven, you husbands and wives would do well to sit down together and make some plans that do not involve anyone or anything but you. Between children, work, and even serving the Lord, marriages often grow apart just enough for the devil to drive a wedge and insert a home wrecker. But that is hard for him to do if you continue to date and pursue each other.
Let me end, please, by giving a bunch of rapid miscellaneous things for you to do. Here goes. Make a will, register to vote, get a passport (hard to see the world God made without one of those), take a vacation, read at least one book a month, study a foreign language, eat really good sushi, take a missions trip, and support your local newspaper.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the Store link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner