A New Year: 2018

So how did you do?  Did you accomplish what you hoped for last year at this time?  By the time my next souletosoul blog will post, we will already be into the new year of 2018, so now is the time to reflect on the past year and plan for the coming one.

I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions for many years.  Then I started to make them in my mind, but not tell anyone.  That avoided having to face my failure.  There are a few I kept over the years.  One year, I resolved to get back into working out at a wellness center.  I did that and have been an active participant for every year since.  It hasn’t made me a great physical specimen, but it has probably kept me from getting any more out of shape.

Then I resolved to run the Memorial Day Cotton Row 5K.  I actually ran a 5K the weekend before the Cotton Row and have run every Cotton Row since 2012.  I now do around 15 a year.

But last year my resolution was to de-clutter my office.  I succeeded in clearing one wall (the least cluttered part of the room).  But did not complete the task.  Since I did not tell anyone, I only had God and myself to answer to.  So this year I hope to complete the job.  Check with me next year at this time and see if I am any more successful.

I have another one that I made for several years and never got going on.  I still hope to get that one going this year.  But I won’t tell anyone, so I won’t be embarrassed by the (lack of) results.  See, there I go again, setting myself up for failure and I haven’t even started the year.

Well, 2017 was a pretty good year,  with one notable exception.  And we really have no way of knowing what the future holds for any of us.  Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, accidents and other tragedies may come into our lives.  Thankfully, we cannot see the sorrow that may come.  We just go on what our best guesses tell us.  I am pretty sure that I will have a milestone birthday this April.  I am hoping/planning on taking two road trips by myself.  I expect my youngest grandchild to graduate from college in May.  Other than that, my year is a blank slate.  What will be written on it remains to be seen.

The epistle of James in the Bible warns about planning our lives without realizing that God has a say in what happens.  In James 4:14-15, it says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'”  In past years, many writers would put a notation on their texts:  d. v., for the Latin phrase deo volente, “God willing”.  Even today, many Muslims regularly say, “Inshallah“, which is the Arabic equivalent.

So, God willing, we will live in the year 2018.  Then the question becomes, what difference will we make in the world in the year ahead?  Most of us will not affect the world in general, but we can change the world for a few people.  Maybe we would be better at keeping our resolutions if we moved the focus from us to others.  Not what do I want to do in the year ahead, but what can I do for someone else in the year ahead?  How can I use the gift of a new year to make a difference for someone else?  It may be someone we have known all our life or it may be someone we meet for the first time in the year ahead.

Maybe next year at this time, I won’t have to ask, “What did I do for myself in the past year?”  Maybe next year I will be able to answer the question, “What did I do for someone else in the past year?”  It’s a subtle difference, but it may make all the difference in the world.

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About edwardsoule

The Rev. Dr. Edward A. Soule is now the pastor of Big Cove Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Brownsboro, AL. He retired as a United Methodist pastor who served 28 years as a minister in churches around the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. Before that, he was in Christian radio for 10 years and was a Baptist minister for two years. Over the years, Ed has also been a teacher in public schools, a private school principal, and taught at a Bible college. He has a B.A. from Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; a M. Div. from Bethel Theological Seminary; and a D. Min. from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH. Ed is now widowed. He had been married to Deborah (Mendelson) for 38 years. She was the executive director of Partnership for a Drug Free Community. He currently resides in the Hampton Cove community of Huntsville, AL, where Ed enjoys walking with their dog, Churchill, daily, running and keeping up the landscaping. "Dr. Edward" is available to speak to churches and other groups in the north Alabama/southern Tennessee area. Contact through this blog or directly at edsoule@comcast.net.
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