THERE'S something about the new year that is special. People look at where they have been in the past year so they can see where they are going. Individually, all of us can review the past with an eye toward improving our present and our future.
Sometimes that review may seem a bit discouraging. Perhaps, right at this moment, job prospects aren't good. Or there may be some other reason why we feel we don't have anything to look forward to in the new year.
At times like these, we have at least two choices. We can accept the past year's failures and the present's lack of promise. Or we can follow the example of Christ Jesus and his apostles in embracing the hope that comes from a life based on spirituality.
How we choose depends on our understanding of who and what we are. So often, failure speaks very persuasively to convince us that we are material beings with limited time, opportunity, intelligence, or resources. But this is not the example Christ Jesus lived by. In fact, his whole ministry--and the work of his followers--was based on a refusal to accept limitation of any kind.
Jesus knew that God, divine Love, gives only good to his children, and through his ministry he proved time and again that God's promises are fulfilled. Whether he was dealing with a saint or, more likely, a sinner, the Master never lost sight of God's certain goodness.
This example reaches out to every one of us--sinner or saint! It gives us a totally new perspective on the reason for our being and on the good we can do in the world. Many of Paul's writings in the Bible speak of the contrast between the material--and often hopeless--picture of life and the promise inherent in the spiritual. In Romans he tells us specifically why we can always have hope. He writes of those who would turn to God and obey him: "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but
ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
So, to follow Christ Jesus' example, to endeavor to obey God's law, is really to recognize that we are the offspring of God, divine Love. This doesn't mean that we will never doubt that we are spiritual or that we won't yearn for a more certain feeling of God's love. The human conditions we face may at times overwhelm us. But it does mean that spirituality is the actual fact of our being--one we can claim as we turn over a new leaf or try to get a better grasp on the prospects for a new year. What this m eans in practical terms is that as we get a better understanding of our true, spiritual nature, it becomes much easier to have hope for the future. And we're better able to deal with past failures.
In her Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of the challenges we face as well as the true basis of our hope in God. She declares: "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven.
Christ Jesus proved the validity of trusting divine Love. Through his healing works, his insightful teachings, and his own example, the Master showed for all time that God does not abandon those who love Him. Indeed, Jesus was so sure of God's presence that he once told his followers, "I and my Father are one.
As this new year begins, each of us can strive to be closer to God, to feel the assurance that comes with His love. Through our growing understanding of God's love for us, we too will feel God's presence in our lives--this year and every year.