I’m quite partial to a long slow walk in the countryside, especially if it’s between tearooms. And I particularly love walking (very slowly) up hills. I often come to a point in the walk or climb where I’m ready to have a little sit down. I’m very British, so it’s a joy to me to sit down somewhere sheltered-ish on a fold out mat, get out a flask of tea and a sandwich and just sit for a while and look. And I think the first couple of weeks of a new year might be the perfect time to do a good bit of looking.
Looking should be savoured. In my opinion it’s better than the actual walking… I like to look back and congratulate myself, remember the pain and the exhilaration; look at where I am now, enjoy the view; and look ahead to where I’d like to get to, when I feel like I’ve got the energy to get up and move again.
It’s good to look back at where you’ve been. To remember that stretch where the walking was a joy and the scent of the flowers around you almost carried you along; the slope that seemed a particularly hard climb; the part where you slipped and fell into the thorns and came out limping and bleeding and yet somehow got up and carried on. If you look back at the journey of 2014 there will have been different kinds of terrain, injuries, happy times, and people who came and walked beside you in it all, it’s worth taking some time to reflect.
It’s even better to sit next to Jesus and ask him to show you where he was, how he helped you, how he felt as he walked beside you on that climb. Joys and struggles, triumph and disaster. Don’t judge for yourself, ask him to show you what you did well, what you learned, how you’ve grown.
And while you’re resting with Jesus at the very beginning of 2015, you might choose to have a quick look through your back pack for any rocks you might have accidentally picked up and carried with you this year. Lumps of unforgiveness especially have the ability to slow you down. It might really help to get rid of them now and not carry them through into the next year!
Looking ahead is harder. The view back is always clearer than the one in front. It’s probably better not to second guess it, and if you’re like me you’ll be in the thick of January before you have time to ask too many questions. You might just ask for one word or picture that says something about what God wants you to learn or be in the next year and then, if you’re brave enough, look up into Jesus’ eyes and say “I’m not sure where I’m going, but I trust you to lead the way”.