WE ARE living in a violent age, a cold peace, an uncertain future. As we meditate on the new year we sense the tremendous challenge it brings to Seventh-day Adventist ministers. The world seems to be one deadly bomb with thousands of fuses jutting out here and there. Irresponsible men seem to be running to and fro among these fuses with lighted matches of distrust, hurling withering sarcasms, false accusations, greedy demands, and threats at one another. It seems the spirits of devils have made them drunk with scientific miracles and simulated power. Can they not see? Can they not understand where all this selfish hatred is leading the human race?
John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, observed recently, as he spoke before the United Nations, that the events of the next ten months may well affect the future of mankind for the next ten thousand years. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. He pleaded that we put an end to terror and invoke the blessings of peace. Speaking to more than one hundred of the world nations he said, "Together we shall save our planet or together we shall perish in its flames."
As we face such a year there must be an urgency in our living, our witnessing, and our preaching. We cannot play at little things. We cannot waste precious moments with nonessentials. We must be giants of spiritual power, true interpreters of present truth, and a positive, compelling in-fluence for the salvation of mankind.
What type of workers does the age demand? "God's cause at this time is in special need of men and women who possess Christlike qualifications for service, executive ability, and a large capacity for work; who have kind, warm sympathetic hearts, sound common sense, and unbiased judgment, who will carefully weigh matters before they approve or condemn, and who can fearlessly say No, or Yea and Amen; who, because they are sanctified by the Spirit of God, practice the words, 'All ye are brethren.' striving constantly to uplift and restore fallen humanity."—Ellen G. White Manuscript 156a, 1901.
The new year is before us. Time is important. We are a people of prophecy, of conviction, of purpose. We are children of God's living concern and are given each day, each month, of this golden period of time in which we may grow into the likeness of Him who made us. Shall we not then cherish every moment of our precious opportunities for our personal spiritual development?
Let us resolve to face the new year with courage. When God's people faced a flowing Jordan, walled fortresses, and mighty giants in the land whither they were to go, He commanded them to be strong and of good courage. Across the pages of time since the disciples returned from the Mount of Ascension, legions of men, women, and children—a brave, bold caravan of witnesses to truth—have told their story with unswerving devotion. These have learned the secret that the psalmist discloses in the words, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord" (Ps. 31:24). As we face the tragic happenings that may fill the weeks and months of this coming year and as we meet the tests and trials that may await us, we, too, need to be strong and of good courage.
Let us resolve to face the new year with faith. God has not forsaken the world. He may not yet be ready to show the power of His might or to deliver His children from suffering or death, but His spiritual arm is still stretched out to steady us in our daily walk, and He will be with us even unto the end of the world. Let us remember that in shadow as well as in sunshine God is preciously near to those who serve Him.
Let us face the new year with love. Let us rid ourselves of every root of bitterness, every remnant of animosity or hatred. Let us enter the new season with love filling our hearts, ready to overflow in thoughts and deeds of sympathy and tenderness. May we always be alert to feel sympathy with another in sorrow or be willing to express appreciation of good work done by another. May our lives and words have the glow of "Thank you" in all that we say or do.
Let us resolve to keep our friendships in good repair—to be more understanding, more tolerant, more forgiving, more slow to take offense. Let us determine to make our minds a graveyard for any gossip that may drift our way. And let us pray that our heavenly Father will enable us to have such control over our lips that never a word will pass through them which will hurt another.
Let us resolve to face the new year with zeal. There is so little time in which to do all that must be done. Along the way there will be difficulties, but a warm and glorious welcome awaits us at the end of the road. Let us hasten with our task. We may soon have it completed if there is zealous, united, and consecrated action. What might the church not do in the course of one short year to hasten the coming of the Lord if even a Gideon band went forth under the blessing of the Holy Spirit and with holy zeal to prepare men and women for the glorious appearing of our Saviour! Let us face our responsibilities seriously and do some real heart searching and resolving at the beginning of this new year.
Let us resolve to be silent about our own personal difficulties along the 1962 road. Our companions are not particularly interested in our aches and pains, the stones on our highways, the thorns in our bushes. These things are not important to another, and what is more, if we do not dwell upon them, they will not seem nearly so important to us. Let us approach the positive side of tomorrow's circumstances and do all we can to dispense cheerful, hopeful convictions to those who associate with us along the way.
Let us resolve to be health conscious. To enjoy success we must have health. Health, happiness, and success are intimately associated. A famous doctor was asked one day to give some advice to a group of young theological students. Among other things he said was this: "If I were young again, I would take such good care of my health that when the years of great tasks and opportunities would come to me in later life, I would have a sound constitution, steady nerves, and a healthy mind to accomplish them." Begin today with meticulous care to guard our health and strengthen our body.
Let us resolve to face the new year with our records clear. Many experiences of the old year we will want to cherish. We will not want to forget the encouraging words, the hand that strengthened us, the kindnesses shown, the flowers along the way, the mercies of God, and the way He has led us. Nor will we want to forget our vows to God and to man, nor any wrong or pain we may have brought upon another. There are some things, of course, we will want to forget—any injuries, sorrows, or losses that we have suffered. The blunders and failures of yesterday—we will want to lay them aside as we press toward the mark of our high calling. There is much ahead for us—the glorious privilege of ministry for the Master, fellowship with Jesus Christ, a home and eternity.
Some people have likened the new year to a page, a chapter, or a book. How true this is with our lives fully committed to the Master. If given a chance, He will write upon these new pages events that are full of interest, full of meaning, rich in service. We are an epistle, a letter, authorized by God. May all who read us be amazed at what our heavenly Father is doing day by day to redeem, to rebuild, to restore in us the beauty of the original creation. Then one day in that great library where the books are gathered for all
the universe to see we will know that the shallow trash which might have been on our pages has been covered by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. And that which is revealed will be the righteousness of Christ lived out in us.
To many this new year may be likened to a room with four white walls, a ceiling, a floor, a window, and a door but with nothing in it. Then every thought we think and every deed we do changes that room, either little or much—the tint upon its walls, the view from its windows, the furniture we place within. This is the room in which we will live, if God is willing, for 365 days. Let it be uncluttered, simple, and beautiful. Perhaps a shelter for one who is weary and discouraged or a pinnacle to stimulate and inspire. May we draw into the room the magnificent, spirited, glorious truths of the Word of God, colored with sufficient grace to live the Christ life in our daily walk, and may we have wisdom to know how to do more efficiently the work that He has given us to do.
Perhaps an untraveled road might suit us better as a simile for the new year—a road upon which we have set our feet on the first day of the year. This road leads we know not exactly where, but one thing we do know, God has not planned this highway to lead us to disappointment and failure, but to victory and success. As we face the new year we can have confidence in the promise, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
Whatever 1962 may be for us—a page, a room, a highway, or just another period of time—it is something new and clean placed into our hands to use. Let us resolve to take more time for prayer, introspection, and Bible study, and allow the illumination of the Holy Spirit to give us a vision not only of our own characters but of the great work that needs to be accomplished. May we desire a deeper spiritual life and a stronger faith in the message. May there be a sweet warmth and Christian love in our hearts, which will bind us closer to one another and be a drawing power in our labors for others. May we possess power from heaven sufficient to meet the challenge of the coming year.
A. C. F.