What Lies Ahead

walkway what lies ahead 300x225 What Lies AheadYesterday I turned on the radio hoping to catch a few Christmas carols, but the station that began blasting R&B versions of “Silent Night” before Thanksgiving had already returned to its regular programming.

The station was showcasing hits from 2011 that were not music to my {apparently old, fuddy-duddy} ears. Before I turned the radio off in favor of listening to a charming audio version of James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Animal Tales (thank you, Great Grandma and Grandpa), I heard a promo on the station that mentioned this might be the last New Year’s Eve to listen to the greatest hits since, the dramatic on-air personality told his listeners, the Mayan calendar predicts 2012 is the final year of existence.

I laughed this off, of course. There’s been plenty of apocalyptic expectations lately, or maybe I just didn’t notice the doomsday message so much when I was younger.

Whatever the case, I don’t think the end of the world is upon human creation; yet, hearing messages like these, even when they’re not meant to be taken seriously and are just a way to get people to listen to bad music, is a good reminder for me that my time on this earth could expire at any time.

I don’t want to live in fear, but I certainly could afford to be more vigilant in my life. My Advent, as it should be, was full of messages about the importance of being awake and ready. Certainly, as a new year begins, I would do well to examine my interior life and to make some changes.

Yet, I’ve missed another important theme in the past when I’ve read Scripture about being ready. I’ve too often viewed the messages through almost apocalyptic lens: Get your act together. Shape up. Stop being such a selfish ninny. Oh, and while you’re at it, clean the baseboards and those stinky kitchen counters.

Then I see the smiles of my happy baby boy who personifies joy, and I wonder if there’s something more to God’s calling us to wakefulness. We’re not only called to be ready; we’re called to an awareness of the beauty that is before us every single day. We’re called to be joyful. We’re called to trust no matter what happens, no matter how we’re feeling, no matter whether we feel like an apocalyptic mess at the end of an exhausting, disastrous day.

I don’t need to preoccupy myself with getting my affairs in order or fret about what tomorrow may hold. What I feel God is calling me to do instead is to find joy – and Him – in the ordinariness of life and to pause long enough to notice the abundance of gifts around me like my the most powerful timepiece I have in my life right now, my little man who started out looking like this:

little thomas 225x300 What Lies Ahead

But in four, short months he’s looking like this:

older thomas in carseat 225x300 What Lies Ahead

And I wonder: Am I taking it all in? Babyhood is so fleeting, and I’m one of those moms who loves babies. Am I really, really aware of the everyday gifts that show up in my life? The handpicked flowers from my daughters. The delicious rolls on my baby’s butterball thighs. My husband’s strong but tender hands. A good conversation with a good friend. The presence of goodness and light even when I feel like I’m enveloped in darkness and fear.

I don’t know what lies ahead for my life, my family, or humanity. I don’t even know what lies ahead for tonight. Will I be awake all night with the littles, or will I be able to squeeze in a little shut-eye? (Lord, I know how to be wakeful!) I don’t need to know. I don’t even want to know. (I’ll just imagine I’m going to get more than five hours of fragmented sleep.) Nor do I need catastrophic predictions to push me to be grateful, joyful, and to trust God in all things.

As a beautiful New Year’s devotional I read this weekend reminds us, “What you do need to know about the future is not what is ahead of you, but Who is ahead of you. It is the Lord who goes before you, is ahead of you, and is preparing the way for you. Your future is in His sure, strong, caring hands.”

Be wakeful. Joy is everywhere. And so is God. Happy New Year, indeed.

 

Enter the Conversation...

3 Responses to “What Lies Ahead”
  1. ViolinMama says:

    This is absolutely, absolutely, TRULY, right on. Reading this makes me wish I was in your kitchen talking about this – but blessedly, I have this post and it feels just like you sharing in person as always.

    Obviously I’m up being very watchful – HA! And you put the thoughts I had in my head out in the open as eloquently as usual. I’ve spent a lot of time in bed this week, and I wonder if I’ve been soaking up my children’s babyhood and childhood this week, this month, these past few months.

    Your words : “I feel God is calling me to do instead is to find joy – and Him – in the ordinariness of life and to pause long enough to notice the abundance of gifts around me…” is something I will pray on and reflect on. I totally believe God, through the scriptures, is calling us to perpetual Advent – always waiting, always watchful, never knowing when the Master is to come. And, it is to be joyful! Even joyful to the point of longing!

    Thanks for bringing us all along on the watch. Love you! Happy New Year!
    ViolinMama recently posted..Word for 2012

  2. Melanie B says:

    “I wonder if there’s something more to God’s calling us to wakefulness. We’re not only called to be ready; we’re called to an awareness of the beauty that is before us every single day. We’re called to be joyful. We’re called to trust no matter what happens, no matter how we’re feeling, no matter whether we feel like an apocalyptic mess at the end of an exhausting, disastrous day.”

    Kate, I love this! So true. I think you’re getting at the heart of Advent, the heart of what it means to be watchful. Joy not fear, a hope that lives in the present and not the future. As I read that I feel like I caught a glimpse of something wonderful out of the corner of my eye. I’m not sure what it was but I want to go chasing after it like Alice down the rabbit hole. It seems like a dream worth pursuing.
    Melanie B recently posted..New Year’s Eve at La Salette

  3. Melanie B says:

    Oh and a very happy and blessed new year to you and yours.
    Melanie B recently posted..New Year’s Eve at La Salette

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