Looking Back, Looking Forward

Tonight, we turn the calendar’s page to another year. It’s hard to believe that the year 2016 is just around the corner. I remember when the George Orwell book 1984 was a futuristic tale, and when the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey was distant-future science fiction. Now it seems like both of those dates are ancient past. And if that doesn’t blow your mind, remember that the future, in Back to the Future, is now the past.
As we look back on 2015, it is not hard to focus more on the negatives that have punctuated a tumultuous year. The levels of political rancor have left our nation more divided than at any time since the Civil War. Socially and morally, it seems that the downward spiral has picked up speed, from the undermining of biblical marriage to the further devaluing of human life. Our economy continues to teeter on edge, with our government amassing debt for generations to come, all the while waiting for the next bubble to burst. And, of course, acts of terrorism have moved from foreign shores to our own land, bringing with them an uncertainty day by day.
Which leads us to 2016. The natural tendency is to face the New Year with fear and trepidation.
And on the surface, there’s plenty of reason to at least be concerned about the future. Personally, I believe things in our society will get worse before they get better. But we mustn’t give in to fear, and we mustn’t lose hope.
Someone counted–and I am sure you have seen the meme to prove it–that the Bible says “Fear not” 365 times, once for every day of the year. That could mean trouble for 2016, since it’s a Leap Year and we have an extra day. But really, aside from the symbolism, the 365 occurrences of that statement remind us that there were plenty of people who were afraid in Bible times too. Because you don’ t have to tell someone not to fear if they don’t have a reason to be afraid.
Still, the Lord speaks into our fears with those simple words: “Do not be afraid.” And very often, that simple admonition is followed by a promise, a reminder: “…’for I am with you,’ says the Lord.”In other words, the reason we need not be afraid is not because He will make all of our circumstances better, but that He will be with us through whatever comes our way. Or, as the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “He will never leave us, nor forsake us.”
It may be a cliche, but it is still true: We may not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future.And He can be trusted.
I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us at Shelby Crossings in 2016 as we serve Him together. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me. Have a safe and blessed New Year!

–Pastor Ken