Happy New Year

Isn’t this a lovely winter scene? The team of Nathaniel Currier and James Merritt Ives (Currier and Ives) headed up a successful printmaking firm based in New York City from 1857 to 1907. While the company began with images created by Currier first, and Ives later, it employed a host of other artists who sketched scenes that, in turn, were widely reproduced. This print was based on a painting by American artist Charles Parsons.

Lithographic prints could be reproduced quickly and purchased inexpensively, and the firm called itself “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints” and advertised its lithographs as “colored engravings for the people.” The company lithographed 4,300 subjects for distribution across America and Europe. They offered images of almost everything animal, vegetable, or mineral in the United States, including views of the citizens enjoying their freedoms, such as skating in Central Park.

This scene fits very well with Christmas which is now in our rear-view mirror. Christmas was a little different for me this year. We are getting our kitchen remodeled and so our whole house is in an uproar. No hosting, cooking, or baking for us! While it is a pain to go through the process of a remodel, I know in the end it will be worth it. That can echo life as well. We all have “stuff” we have to get through and hopefully we come out on the other side of it more appreciative of the blessings we have. We don’t always know what we have until we go without for a while.

The New Year invites us to look at the blessings in our lives. What do we take for granted? We reflect on the Old Year. We can’t change it, yet we hope to learn something from having lived through it. Each New Year, I like to share this devotion from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. I pray it blesses you.

“You shall not go out with haste …for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah 52:12).

Security from Yesterday. “…God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15). At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise when we remember our yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God’s grace tends to be lessened by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and he allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present.

Security for Tomorrow. “…the Lord will go before you….” This is a gracious revelation— that God will send his forces out where we have failed to do so. He will keep watch so that we will not be tripped up again by the same failures, as would undoubtedly happen if he were not our “rear guard.” And God’s hand reaches back to the past, settling all the claims against our conscience.

Security for Today. “You shall not go out with haste….” As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ.

Being Human connection: Leave the broken, irreversible past in his hands, and step out into the invincible future with him. Happy New Year!

Featured art: Currier & Ives, Central Park Winter—The Skating Pond, 1862. Based on a painting by Charles Parsons.