2014 - How will it be for us?
It's all very strange when we come to a new year. There are some things that we expect to happen, and yet so much of what will take place we do not know. In my own life 2014 has for many years been written in certain documents as the year I might retire. As we enter this New Year, Lynne and I are planning to move to Hartlebury at the beginning of July as I begin this new chapter of retirement. We are going to be very sad to move away from many friends and such a beautiful area - but we are also looking forward to a new phase in our lives.
2014 will see the commemoration of the beginning of the First World War. We are all connected with this through our family history, the heritage of our local communities and because of its long term impact on society and the world we live in today. In Bayton churchyard we are hoping that the poppies will grow in a section of the churchyard as a symbol of this commemoration. It is going to be interesting to see how the commemoration affects us during the year. I heard a discussion about it on the radio one day - and I think many things may emerge that will surprise us as we reflect anew on those momentous events one hundred years on.
There are other things in the diary for this New Year. In February the Winter Olympics are due to be held in Sochi, Russia. In June and July the FIFA World Cup will be held in Brazil. In September the Scottish Independence Referendum will be held and by the end of the year combat troops from the UK and USA are due to have left Afghanistan.
In addition you may be expecting some good events in 2014 - perhaps an important birthday or anniversary. Maybe someone in your family is already expecting a baby. Others, like us, will be planning to move. Yet it is also true that much of what we will find really important in 2014, we do not yet know anything about it. It has yet to happen. There will be times of joy and possibly times of sorrow; good times and bad times.
I do not believe that God wants us to know the details of the future. In Scripture the prophets sometimes gave some idea in Old Testament times, but often this was a call for the nation to change their ways. We often think of the prophets foretelling the future - but their main ministry was to proclaim the word of God - God's message - to the people of the time. Some people today want to know what might happen and consult horoscopes - but my own view is that part of being a human being is that we do not know what the future holds in any detail. God has given us the freedom of not knowing the details of our immediate future.
So we know of some events that will happen this year - but much of what will be important to us lies in the future and we just don't know at the moment. At the end of the year we will look back and reflect on how it has been. I believe we need something or someone who can be a rock for us during the uncertainties of life. For me that rock is Christ. In him are the future and the past. I do not know what will happen, but I know He goes ahead of us and is there to help us. Maybe you share this faith or you have something or someone else to be your rock.
I leave you with a couple of verses from the prophet Isaiah:
‘Thou dost keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee,
because he trusts in thee.
Trust in the Lord for ever,
for the Lord God
is an everlasting Rock.' Isaiah 26.4,5
Whatever your rock in life - I wish you all blessings and happiness in 2014!