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. My favourite bit though, is that part where you find somewhere sheltered-ish to sit in, get out a flask of tea and a sandwich and just rest for a while and look.
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.
The first few days of a new year are an excellent time for looking.
It’s good to look back at where you’ve been. To remember that flower-scented stretch where every step was a joy; to see the slope that seemed a particularly hard climb; even to remember with a wince the part where you slipped and fell into the thorns and yet somehow got up and carried on. To see how faith, hope, grace and prayer have carried you through the good and the bad.
I’m sure that, like me, if you look back at the journey of 2018 there will have been a mixture of terrain: joy, challenges, pain, change, surprises, hope, disappointment and people who came and walked beside you in it all,
It’s worth taking some time to reflect, to look.
As you look, invite Jesus to sit next to you. Ask him to show you where he was, how he helped, how he felt as he walked beside you on that climb. Joys and struggles, triumph and disaster. 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 beginning of 2019, take a quick look through your backpack for any rocks you might have managed to pick up and carry with you this year. Lumps of unforgiveness especially have the ability to slow you down. It will really help to get rid of them now and not carry them through into the next year!
Then you’re ready to look forward. The view back is always clearer than the one in front, and although we make plans, it’s much harder to see the road ahead. There are things we expect, hope for, plan for, are anxious about, are resolved to do differently next year, but it’s not always easy to plot the route between them.
Remember as you’re looking at the road ahead to invite Jesus to sit beside you again. His perspective is invaluable. While you’re there, ask God for a word or picture that says something about what he wants you to learn or be in 2019.
So if you can, take some time in the next few days to look:
look in your backpack,
and then, if you’re brave enough, look up…
… look into Jesus’ eyes and say “I’m actually not very sure where I’m going, or how I’ll get there, but I trust you to lead the way”.