And just like that, 2022 is coming to an end.
Though I don’t remember how old I was, my earliest memory of bringing in the New Year was fighting to stay awake in order to watch the Times Square Ball Drop in New York City. With Dick Clark counting down, I remember watching with amazement as the 12,000-pound crystal ball descended from the One Times Square building.
The first such “time ball” appeared in 1833 atop England’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Since then, over 150 other illuminated globes have inspired holiday observers around the world who were anxious for a fresh start. The American ball dropped for the first time in 1907 and quickly became a cherished tradition. Except for 1942 and 1943 due to World War Two dimouts, our nation has collectively counted down every year since.
Made of Waterford crystals, the Times Square Ball is 12 feet in diameter and boasts of over 32,000 LEDs capable of a kaleidoscope palette of more than 16 million colors and patterns. This year’s theme, The Gift of Love, showcases 192 panels of interconnecting heart shapes. As with every celebration, our anticipation of the future is about much more than the turning of the calendar. For most, New Year’s Day is an opportunity to begin again.
With Christmas behind us and 2023 before us, many people are looking for practical ways to improve their lives. For some it will be shedding a few pounds. For others it will be saving money. Our lists of resolutions go on and on with goals of exercising more, getting organized, being a better friend. We dream of gaining more knowledge, worrying less, and living each day to the fullest. Christians, too, set goals of sharing their faith, reading their Bibles, and spending daily time in prayer. To become more like Christ over the coming 12 months is the common motivation behind every sanctified ambition.
Regardless of how strong your faith walk might be, I believe that Proverbs 3:5-6 holds the keys to helping all of us face the future with confidence. These ancient words, written by King Solomon, have stood the test of time. The text simply says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Trust God Completely
Trusting the Lord bears the idea of putting your full weight upon Him. Doing so with all your heart requires the totality of your being. The first step of walking with God is relying upon Him fully. Refusing to lean on your own understanding is an unwillingness to be wise in your own eyes. It means we trust what God says more than whatever we think or feel that might be contrary to Scripture. These steps of faith liberate us from the anxiety of carrying our burdens alone. No matter what 2023 brings, God’s Word will continue to be true; God’s way will continue to be best; and God’s work will continue to be important. Learn to trust Him no matter what comes your way.
Acknowledge God Always
The purpose of every human life is to make much of God by living for Him rather than ourselves. Acknowledging God means that we are always pondering what He desires or what He is doing in every situation. Socially, financially, professionally, recreationally, and vocationally—in ALL our ways we are to look for and submit to God’s will for our lives. It’s true about big things like where we live, whom we marry, or what career path we choose. But it’s also the goal with the small, seemingly mundane parts of life as well, things like how we use our time, how we treat other people, and what food we put into our bodies. How would our lives be different, even better, if we simply sought to make much of God in every place, every day of 2023?
Follow God’s Plan
The promise that the Lord will make our paths straight is conditional. When we trust Him always and acknowledge Him continually, God’s plan for our lives unfolds without interruption. Most of the world lives with the mantra, “I will do whatever I want to do.” Many well-meaning Christians make decisions with a spiritual twist, “I do what I think I ought to do.” A better way, though, is the commitment, “I will do whatever God leads me to do.” Intrinsic to living this way is a settled conviction that God has a plan for every person’s life. Through the pages of Scripture, the accountability of a church family, and the counsel of godly friends, the Lord makes His direction plain for those eager to follow.
Foundational to all these commitments is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the doorway to trusting God, the way to acknowledge God, and the first step down the narrow road of walking with God. My prayer for you, and all in our community, is that you will experience God’s best in the coming year. Happy New Year!
Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.