THOUGHTS AT THE MILESTONE OF A NEW YEAR
For eighty-some years of my life I've earnestly desired to stay in the midstream of the River of God's Will. Each morning I declare to the Lord that I'm committed to do His will “on earth as it is in heaven.” That is my life habit. Do I carry it out perfectly?
Of course not. In my humanity, with regret, at times I've steered my life “boat” toward one river bank or another, let it drift backward, or veered off course and miserably failed. Nevertheless, God, in His love and mercy, always brings me back to His midstream. He is my spiritual GPS—to the extent that I not only hear His voice but obey it. If so, I stay on course through stormy weather or treacherous white rapids. My frail bark has often stalled on some sandbar. But if Jesus is in my boat—and He is—He will rescue me again and set me back on course.
At the threshold of each new year I schedule a personal “time out” from my regular routine and engage in a kind of self-examination. I need to collect or gather together the scattered pieces of my life as it is now, in order to correct my course if necessary, to better redeem whatever earth-time is left for me.
I have to chuckle—I learned an enhanced definition for the word “recollection” when I became a Catholic Christian. I read an announcement in the Church bulletin that an annual “Day of Recollection” was scheduled for the women of our parish. I was puzzled; would we all sit around and talk about our memories? That seemed strange. I found that the purpose and agenda, however, was something like a spiritual retreat. Setting aside a day to concentrate on the presence of God without distraction, to look at Him and adore His attributes. To meditate on Scripture truths. It was to be a time to gather up our faculties, our spirits, and bring them back into spiritual balance. We were to come apart and simply gaze at the wonder of God and His love and discern how He wanted to work in our lives.
That's exactly what I wanted to happen in my new years “time out.”
To be honest, I need to have such a “time of recollection” every day. To present myself to God, to sit quietly, focused on Him alone without distractions. “Here I am, Lord. If you want to speak to my inner spirit, I'm listening.” There are other times I schedule Bible study and praying for others. This is not it. This is a special time to simply enjoy being together with my Lord. A time to listen to God's voice. A time to gather up the scattered puzzle pieces of my life and let Him show me how to put them together like the perfect picture on the top of the jigsaw puzzle box of my life.
We are blessed that our parish provides a lovely Adoration Chapel for such times of silent contemplation. Parishioners voluntarily sign up to be present for designated hours so that someone is always there to worship Jesus 24/7. But in addition to taking advantage of that opportunity, I want to set a "time of recollection” for myself at home alone with the Lord.
I don't make a list of New Year's resolutions. Of course there are many things I need to change, improve, detach from, add to my life even at this late chronological season. Better late than never! But I do want to make greater efforts to schedule such a personal “time of recollection” daily this coming year. In so doing, I expect to receive from God WISDOM to help me discern His priorities according to what resources, gifts, abilities, and opportunities He is still giving me to accomplish His will. The older I become, the more urgent it is to stay close to the Lord and “keep the main thing, the main thing.”
At the same time, I have to look toward the future with realism and not presumption or arrogance. “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow” writes James in the fourth chapter of the letter in the New Testament that bears his name. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't plan, set goals, take opportunities, keep writing and publishing, and press on to fulfill my life calling from the Lord. But I defer to God's will: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” Whether we are young or old, life is fragile and uncertain, a vapor, just a matter of a breath. We are all a mere heartbeat away from exchanging our mortal life for immortality in the Presence of God in a place or state which Jesus called “My Father's House.”
Day by day I need the grace and strength and guidance of God to stay in the midstream of the River of God's will. I want His hands on the steering wheel. I want to live the rest of my life “in assisted living,” (although I'm presently happy to still be living in my own home, which I've named “Eagle Summit.”) I mean "assisted living" in the sense of being totally dependent on the Lord in each season of my life, but even more so at this advanced age. I take at face value Jesus' words “Without Me you can do nothing.” I never bought into the philosophy of “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul,” or echoed the Sinatra song, “I did it my way.”
I truly don't want to “do it my way.” I'm determined to let Jesus keep steering my boat in this new year to keep it on course in the midstream of the River of His will all the way to His Destination.