Today is the first day of the New Year— January 1, 2023.
New Year beginnings are often filled with resolutions and goal setting. Plans for improved health, deeper relationships, new opportunities and challenges. It’s the renewed pursuit of one’s hopes and dreams, and it’s often accompanied by strengthened resolve and determination.
Sometimes the New Year can bring excitement, and sometimes it can cause fear and anxiety.
Below is a photo of my son when he was two years old. His daycare had brought in a pony for all the children to sit on for a photoshoot. He had never sat atop a pony or a horse of any kind before, and even though the teachers took all the necessary precautions to keep him safe, you can tell from the photo he felt anything but.
Sometimes life can be like that too. The unknown future can be scary and worrisome. But God tells us to trust Him no matter what:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
My husband and I enjoy watching the Canadian television series, Heartland. It centers around a close-knit family who lives on a ranch, and one of the main characters, Amy, is a “horse whisperer.” We’ve learned a lot about horses and some of the essential riding gear (aka “tack”) they require. The saddle and stirrups help keep the rider securely positioned on the horse, and the reins help the rider guide the horse, kind of like how the Word of God guides us and helps us to stay firmly rooted in Christ.
Have you ever seen a race horse with blinders on? The blinders help narrow the horse’s vision so they only focus on what is straight-ahead, keeping the distractions in their peripheral vision out of sight. As Christians, we could benefit from wearing blinders sometimes too. “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27.
It’s easy to get distracted by worldly pursuits and idols. It’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day routines and to neglect spending time with God. So, here is my challenge to us all— myself included:
Since the New Year is a time for renewed zeal and determination to make changes and improvements in one’s life, let us encourage one another to put on spiritual blinders so that we can fervently pursue the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him. Let us tighten our spiritual saddle and stirrups— by putting on the armor of God— and stay firmly rooted in Christ! That’s a resolution worth working towards! That’s a resolution that brings not only eternal rewards but present ones too.
All this talk about horses reminds me of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, The Great Adventure.
“Saddle up your horses.
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the yonder of God’s Amazing grace.
Let’s follow our leader into the Glorious unknown.
This is the life like no other, Whoa, Whoa,
This is The Great Adventure!”
Yes, life is certainly an adventure! It’s filled with ups and downs, low valleys and high, glorious mountains. The valleys of life may be filled with fearful uncertainty and painful sorrow, and the mountains of life might be filled with joy, hope, and excitement. But through it all, when we keep trusting God, He will lead us to His eternal path of peace, and His loving presence will be with us every step of the way.
We may take a wrong turn every now and then or even fall off a few times. But you know what people say… “When you fall off a horse, get right back on!”
So, saddle up your horses, friends! Make a resolution to pursue God and His Word, and He will guide you on this great adventure of life. Through the hard times and happy times. Through the slow, peaceful trots and the heart-racing gallops. Let go of your reins and surrender them to God, so He can reign as Lord of your life.
Have a blessed New Year,