The New Year: A March or a Dirge?
We are starting to get settled into the New Year. Life as usual has recommenced, all of our resolutions and goals have been set, and we are well on our way to a regular year full of regular things.
Regarding the New Year
I’ve noticed that there are at least three ways in which people regard the New Year.
- As an adventure, excited to think of what the year may bring,
- As a clean slate on which they must make amends for all the mistakes of last year,
- As a dread, seeing the year ahead like a game map, always wondering if the next step will be a landmine that is ready to explode in their face.
It’s easy for the young and inexperienced to have the mindset of the first, and the ambitious you will find with the second. But the tired, the weary, and the afraid are the keeper of the last, which happens to be a great percentage of people today.
The March, Not the Dirge
I was struck the other day by something I read from A. W. Tozer. He said, “The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity.” For those of us with the dread of the year to come in our hearts, marching into the New Year sounds pretty ridiculous. Can you imagine marching into each day like a soldier? It sounds exhausting. Or maybe you think you’d look a little like the Salvation Army members in the movies, standing on the street corner being ignored and looking completely out of place.
But wouldn’t you know, it is just the attitude we are called to have.
The School of Life
He goes on to say, “If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference.”
We have much to learn from the days ahead that God has prepared for us. At Mr. Tozer’s words I feel like I should stand and say, “Yes, a believer must never be afraid to learn something new.” But my knees weaken at the memory of reality.
The Best Prepared
He goes on further, “Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation.”
Mr. Tozer’s words deserve a standing ovation, don’t you think? I love his statement, that a Christian should be best prepared, because he backs it up with so much truth.
What is the source of life but God? We ask questions like “why”? Why is there so much suffering? Why is life so hard? We have a lot of questions about life — the way it is versus the way it should be — and the answer to them all is in God, the source of life. The true believer has based his faith off of the fact that God is his life-giver, he has dealt with life at it’s source.
Because He Lives
I think of the moments in my life when I suffered and struggled the hardest and I can’t imagine God not being there. The Christian can face tomorrow cheerful and unafraid, he says, which recalls to mind the words of a beautiful hymn,
“Because He lives I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.”
A Life of Peace
Mr. Tozer uses neglected vernacular when saying the believer has “turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God.” The opposite of peace might be war, destruction, contention, despair. A person who turns from those things into peace truly will have a safe habitation in God.
So then why can’t the average Christian march into the New Year? A dirge is for the hopeless, a march is for the hopeful. We have to choose which we’ll be.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! glory, hallelujah!… Our God is marching on.”
Don’t forget, the object of our faith “makes the difference, the mighty difference.”
“He has put a new song in my mouth — Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”
— Psalm 40:3
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* A. W. Tozer quotations from his book, The Warfare of the Spirit
* “Because He Lives,” by Gloria and Bill Gaither
* “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe