The Word for today:
mark this: (Psalm 39:4)
Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life.
Outside of Luke 2 and Mathew 2, there is no better Christmas story than "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
If you've never read it in the original, do yourself a favor in the next few days. Skip the Scrooge McDuck version and reach for the real thing. It doesn't take much longer to read the original than to watch any movie version of it. Some of the movies come pretty close to capturing the spirit of Christmas (the 1951 version comes this close) but Dickens' original nails it:
Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.
Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail…
In the story, as you well know, Scrooge encounters the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. He is forced to face his life and its consequences. Like my past and perhaps your own, it was not always a pretty picture.
The Bible, however, does not recommend that we dwell in the past:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:18-19)
No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us heavenward. (Philippians 3:13-14)
The Bible recommends that we live in the now…
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24)
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
…while letting the ever-nearer future spur us on:
Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. (Psalm 39:4)
In the coming New Year, may we cultivate the habits of forgetting what's past, and letting the future shape the present.
Whoever we were died with Jesus Christ:
We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. (Romans 6:6b)
So let the dead bury the dead while you follow Jesus into the future (1).
Ditch the ghosts of your past, and all the skeletons in your closet. They have no claim on you now (2).
Let the new creation realities shape your new year. Meet your future self in the Bible: he/she is described throughout the New Testament, and bears an uncanny resemblance to Jesus:
For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:5)
Introduce yourself to your future self. Then be that person right now.
(1) Matthew 8:22; (2) Romans 6:6b-7