Reflections - Ancient Text for a New Year

Eleanor Deckert

Well, that was pretty easy! I opened my Bible, and there it was: a list of Ten New Year's resolutions - prepackaged.

I don't have to do any soul-searching, nor step on the scale, review my past behaviour, remember to phone Great-Aunt Betty or even walk the dog more often.

As a bonus, this list has stood the test of time. Not a frivolous 'make-over' or unattainable waistline. No new fitness routine on my agenda!

Want to know what verses popped out at me? Philippians 4:4-7. Looks simple enough. Let's take a look together.

I've got four Bibles open now to clarify the meaning of some of the words for comparison. Those ancient scrolls and tiny writing can be translated with slightly different shades of meaning. There is always a deeper message to search for. New Revised Standard, The Way, Saint Joseph Bible and the Good News - that pretty well covers a wide range of interpretations of the original text.

Ready? Let's go in!

Rejoice (be full of joy) in the Lord always...

OK, that seems like a great start. How hard can it be to 'rejoice'? My wise and wonderful Aunt has a slogan. 'J-O-Y' stands for 'Jesus, Others, Yourself.' That is the key to living in 'joy.'

and again I say, rejoice...

Hmm, must be important to repeat this twice! But, wait. If you are doing something 'always' why would you need to be reminded to do it again? Maybe it's not so easy to keep on keeping on? Maybe I'll stumble or need to be reminded. But then, the original speaker knew that already. I feel reassured that I can begin again.

Let all men know (let everyone see) your forbearance (moderation) (gentle attitude) (be unselfish and considerate in all you do)...

So, really, in order to live out this resolution, I will need to check my internal climate before I act or open my mouth. Maybe a figure of one of the saints should be out where I can see it and I can be prompted to follow another who chose this Path.

The Lord is at hand (near) (is coming soon)...

Not a distant Creator who is already too busy. Not so high or far or exalted. Not unaware. Near. Coming. Soon. This is good news. I am not alone.

Have no anxiety (worry) about anything...

Well, this is something I have trouble with. Many midnight hours I spend with 'maybe' and 'should' and 'if only.' What might I be doing instead of allowing my mind and hours to fill up with anxiety?

but in everything by prayer and supplication (in your prayers ask God for what you need)...

Let me see if I get this: Instead of whining or complaining, worrying or being mad at myself, or looking for who to blame, I could be talking to God about what's bothering me. Everything?

with thanksgiving (don't forget to thank Him for His answers)...

Well! That would be something to be grateful for. Having a direct line to the Master of the Universe, so to speak. He is, after all, aware of my situation. Perhaps, if I ask, then listen and wait, He will guide me towards a brighter day.

let your requests be made known to God...

But, He already knows! I wonder if it is like when I talk things over with a friend. S/he cannot really tell me the answer to my problems, but, somehow, by laying it all out, I can see more clearly the path I should take. Maybe prayer is like that, too. God listens and then a door opens. Maybe the ability for me to notice is actually God at work?

And, (If you do this you will experience) the peace of God, which passes (surpasses) (far beyond) (is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand) all (human) understanding...

Peace. That would be a good thing. Stillness. Quiet. Calm. Trust. Comfort. Rest. It's not all up to me.

will keep (guard) your hearts and your minds in (in union with) Christ Jesus (His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus)...

And what a wonderful New Year that would bring. Could my own inner peace ripple out to others? If I walk daily with this inner New Year's Resolution keeping me in better balance, might it bring a shift in the groups I volunteer with? the activities I participate in? my family dynamics? my business transactions?

Ancient text. Simple steps - possible to attain - and if I slip, I can begin again.