A Prayer (And Picture) For The New Year (Leighton Ford)

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On Christmas Eve our eleven year old granddaughter, who is a budding philosopher/artist, entertained us by making several sketches. One shows a beach by the ocean, with a jump path leading into the waves. Above the scene she wrote:

“You can never cross the ocean unless you forget about the shore.”

“Where did you hear that?” I asked.

She pointed to her head. “I just thought it.”

And I thought: what a good reminder as we get ready to leave one year and launch into the next.

Leaving the old and crossing to the new is a biblical image repeated again and again. In a time of pessimism and exile the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Do not remember the former things … I am about to do a new thing.”

Similarly, Paul wrote from a prison cell to his fellow believers, “This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

True, in many places the Bible also urges us to remember what God has done in the past. But always there is call to look and move ahead with hope and trust.

We can compare this to a trapeze artist, who holds onto a bar, swings into space and lets go, trusting that, with perfect timing, a partner will send the next bar his way to reach and grasp.

Perhaps this New Year’s weekend would be a good time to stop and ask: what do I need to let go from the past – whether of success or hurt or failure? And where am I called to launch out with new trust into the year to come?

Bill is a lifelong friend who for many years hated Christmas. Growing up, Christmas in his home was a time of no joy, no presents, lots of drunken rage and abuse. He himself became an alcoholic at a young age. He found release in a vision of Christ and through AA.

Later, he was able to let go and write a letter of forgiveness to his deceased father. Now Bill loves Christmas. His past is an asset. He does not dwell there and he is able to share with troubled young people the grace he has found.

Bill understands very well what our granddaughter wrote:

“You can never cross the ocean unless you forget about the shore.”

Here is a prayer I have used and shared for many years. I offer it as a gift for you.

A Prayer at the End and Beginning of a Year

Lord, give me I pray:

A remembering heart for the things that have happened.

An attentive heart to what I have learned.

A forgiving heart for what has hurt.

A grateful heart for what has blessed.

A brave heart for what may be required.

An open heart to all that may come.

A trusting heart to go forth with You.

A loving heart for You and all your creation.

A longing heart for the reconciliation of all things.

A willing heart to say “Yes” to what You will

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