That’s how I feel. Maybe it’s pessimism or a sort of realistic pragmatism, but pulling out that blank calendar for the new year, all those empty spaces soon to be filled to overflowing with notes, events, appointments, due dates, and reminders, makes me nervous in an awkward and embarrassed kind of way. It’s the kind of fear that you want to hide and cover over with nervous giggles and by abruptly changing the subject.
I’m no believer in superstition, and yet I battle this one mysterious fear-mongering belief that if the first few weeks of the new year begin poorly, I’m in for doom and dismay for the next twelve months.
Like the year I threw up on New Year’s Eve as a teenager. Even I knew that seemed like a bad omen.
Truth be told, I don’t look at that empty dayplanner with excitement and anticipation about all the unknowns in the coming year. I don’t like surprises and the unexpected makes me nervous. I’d rather see the pages filled out in advance so I can brace myself for the ride with all its twists, turns, high rises and low points.
I guess I’d be a failure as a mountain climber or an adventurer of any kind. I’d never really look forward to what’s over the next peak or around the next bend in the road. Instead, I’d likely be trekking backwards, always back. Even if the ground were difficult, at least it’d be familiar.
It’s a foolish thing really, this fear of mine coming so soon after Christmas. The consistent message of the Christmas story, heard in the prophecies of Isaiah, the announcements of the angels, the pronouncements of Almighty God, is “Do not be afraid.”
All year I flip open my Bible to these words, returning again and again to take comfort in the promise of an angel to a virgin and the host of heaven to shepherds keeping a night-watch in the fields. God with us. Fear Not. Do not be afraid. Emmanuel has come.
And then I sit just days after Christmas staring at this white-paged calendar, worrying and fretting anxiously, preparing for the worst instead of expecting the best.
How quickly I forget the promise and stumble into this now-familiar pit.
And I need to stop.
I don’t want to be a backwards-traveler, confined by foolish superstitions and held captive by the sin—yes, sin—of fear and worry, refusing to trust my Almighty God who carries the the whole world in His palms and who loves me so passionately and lavishly that He’d sacrifice His Son to spend eternity with me.
It’s uncomfortable at first, awkward like a baby stumbling through those first few steps. Maybe it’s even unnatural, me learning slow to walk by faith, letting go of the comforts of the known within my white-knuckled grasp.
So I’m choosing this week to meditate on a verse that reminds me to be excited about the new work of God in my life, the blessings and beauty He has in store for the year ahead. I’m reminded to take joy in the promise of a new year in His presence and in His care.
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland