As our calendars collectively switch out a 5 for a 6, and the furious march of time rolls onward, it's important to pause for a moment to look back at the last year and then forward into the next.  New Years is a chance to celebrate, grieve, and remember all that has taken place over the past 12 months, as well as dream, pray about, and surrender the next. 

Remember.

As the Israelites in the Jewish scriptures were lost in the desert, wandering aimlessly for decades on ends, they often left alters of rocks when God showed up or when they needed to reflect on an important lesson.  In so doing, they created a sense of who they were and where they had been, because it's so easy to forget where we've been isn't it?

What events, relationships, moments, songs, experiences, lessons, or encounters from 2015 should you mark?  What would it look like for us to take some time to capture those things, to build our own altars, to find ways to remember?  What ways has God's presence been felt or been absent?  It's often not until we take the time to reflect and look back that we notice the artistry of God in our lives.  As 2015 comes to a close, be sure to take some time to remember, and find ways to mark what comes to mind.  Maybe you can write a highlight list, craft a poem, journal, take a picture, or create something that captures where you've been.

Surrendering what's next.

As we explore the photo-albums and journals of 2015, we begin to form a deeper sense of where we've been.  We begin to own our scars, even to the point of affectionate celebration.  Our high points become sentimental reasons for humble and sincere gratitude as we remember them, and come to terms with the truth of their fleeting nature.  In the process of remembering where we've been and who we are, we are freer to chart our course and dream about who we will become, and more likely to notice God's presence in the next season of life.  For all that God has been and brought us through over the past 12 months how beautiful is it that there is still new life ahead!

In the book of Lamentations, a book of song, poetry, prayer, and lament (much like Psalsms), we read these famous words: 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness."
-Lamentations 3:22-23

Here the author reminds us of the profound truth that God is making something new in our lives and in our world, not just every year- but every day. 

This is one of the most common themes of scripture.  God is creating new things, calling us to be re-born, offering us forgiveness and second chances, and inviting us to live life's of faith, hope, and love. 

As we enter a new year, what hopes, dreams, and prayers do you carry?  What areas of your life need a fresh encounter with the God whose mercies are new every morning?  Be encouraged that God is not done yet!  The provocative claim of grace is that we can live into new life through the Resurrection of Christ- that we are being made new by the same Spirit that conquered the grave.   What would it look like for us to trust in the God of new beginnings in 2016?  What if we woke up tomorrow and breathed in newness, anticipation, hope, and expectation that our future is yet to be written and lived, and that God is inviting us into something new?

Our hope and prayer as Oak Life is that we'll find ways to remember all that God has done over the past 12 months, and also surrender the next 12 to the God who's love never ends. 

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