“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we have everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
Thus began one of the most famous novels of all time, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. The work goes on to tell about the volcanic circumstances surrounding the French Revolution, but the same words could be said of our own days.
As one year ends and a new one begins, it is easy for believers to fall into one of two traps. We could believe that, just because a new calendar year arrives, all will go well, and the baggage of yesteryear is behind us. Or, we could despair about wickedness in our land and become hopeless. The outbreak of violence in the land, such as the school shootings in Connecticut, is a stark reminder that our enemy was alive and active in his destruction in 2012.
Though 2012 had its difficulties, there was much good happening in the world. At Falls Creek, there were a record number of decisions for Christ made in the summer. Leading up to the elections, there was a renewed interest in revival through prayer, and we also saw the Gospel spread to new parts of the world.
Overall, was 2012 a good year or bad year? The answer is a little bit of both. For a glaring example to illustrate, take the Oklahoma wildfires. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, lives were lost and more than 100,000 acres of land of the Sooner State was burned. Yet in response to this tragedy, Oklahomans (led by Oklahoma Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers) made an impact by serving these affected families and communities, all in the Name of Jesus. While we continue to grieve with those who experienced loss, we find hope among the ashes.
What will 2013 hold? Only God knows the answer to that. There are, however, fixed things we can keep in mind as we venture into the New Year.
• Trust God. Amid tumultuous times, it is important to cling to the Rock of God’s Word. The most quoted Proverb says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6).
• Make wise decisions. You may have heard the following saying: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” On any given day, we are making decisions that ultimately affect our destiny. In 2013 and beyond, it is important to keep this principle in mind.
• Serve others. In 2013, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, in partnership with associations and churches, will embark on a joint servant evangelism project called “Serve Oklahoma.” The outreach will be launched officially at the State Evangelism Conference (bgco.org/sec) later this month, and you will hear more about it in the pages of the Baptist Messenger.
Whatever the year looks like, we would do well to serve like Jesus who “did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45).
While we cannot control the destiny of this year, we do know from His Holy Word that there are some simple steps that we, as Christians, can take this year to ensure that, whatever bad happens, good will come of it.