01-01-2016 happy new yearA couple of days ago I was sitting at my desk on a cold winter’s day, looking out the window at the snow and ice that wrapped each branch of the trees and birdfeeder in our backyard. My grandson Xander, Chris and Andrea’s youngest son, had just appeared and was inspecting the frozen birdbath and jumping up and down on the virgin snow, leaving tracks from his little boots all over. It was easy to let my mind wander…to warmer times and various thoughts. In a few months the trees will be blossoming again and the birds will return. Then summer will follow with the storms, green grass, and cicadas’ evening song. Before we know it, it will be football season again. Seasons pass so quickly.

My mother died thirty years ago, and in some ways it seems like only yesterday. My mother was not well during the later third of her life. She struggled with both mental and physical illnesses, which made our relationship hard to navigate sometimes. But she was a woman who had certain overriding principles, and love for her family was one of them. Through it all, she was driven by love, and that gave each of us in the family a sense of security and roots during the storms of her later years. I’d love to have a day with her today. I have a thousand questions for her, and I’d love to say how much I loved her again. Often we don’t know what we have until we’ve lost it.

Let’s not just let time and people pass us by this year. I challenge you to savor each moment. I have three values to suggest that you pursue through your faith this year.

1. Pursue simplicity. We make life too complicated. Some would just say life is complicated in and of itself, and I agree with that. But our choices tend to make it far more complicated than necessary. Often we are driven by dissatisfaction with what the Lord has given us and the greed for more things and experiences. Before we know it, our things control us rather than the opposite way around. Our lack of simplicity drives us to overspend and overschedule our lives, and those two mistakes rob us of the better things in life. Only God can give you the desire to simplify and it’s a good thing to pray for.

This past year we’ve gotten rid of a large percentage of our stuff. Marcia and Andrea held the mother of all garage sales, which significantly helped the global economy and my attitude. It’s amazing how we’ll buy something for $100, sell it for $20, and then proudly talk about the money that we made! I’m happy with the freedom and simplicity that comes from “de-stuffing” our lives.

2. Pursue peace. Peace is a most illusive state of being. We all want peace, but we aren’t willing to do much to achieve it. Do we willingly simplify our lives in order to find the freedom that comes from being unencumbered in time and space? Not so much. Do we constantly seek to do what Jesus said in treating others the way that we ourselves want to be treated? Not so much. Do we work hard to deepen our relationship with God? Do we share the gospel with others so that they can have peace with God and we can thus have peace with them? Peace doesn’t just force itself upon us. It has to be courted, but it’s well worth the effort.

3. Pursue purpose, the third of the wonderful triplet of being. Simplicity and peace are dependent on purpose. Why should you work to simplify your life? What is your reason for seeking peace? If it’s merely so that you’ll have an easier life, you’re trying to do something that can’t be done. Peace doesn’t grow from selfishness, and simplicity means little if it has no objective.

Purpose is at the center of our being. God put it there to be the nerve center of our lives. It sends out the electrical charges that empowers simplicity and peace. Human beings are part of God’s grand design. All of creation is designed to bring glory to God.  Isaiah 55:12, Psalm 47:1, Psalm 86:9, and many other passages describe grasslands, wildernesses, seas, flocks, and nations as focused on God in praise and adoration. We are here for an ultimate purpose, that being to bring glory to God in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31).

If you don’t have goals and aspirations for next year, the days, weeks, and months will still grind by and many things will appear in your life. Some will be pleasant and some will be disappointing. Life will still happen, but is that the best use of the precious years you’ve been given and the relationships God has granted you?

May this year be the year that we live purposefully and enjoy the fruits that will be produced by simplicity and peace.