Pastor’s Perspective – By Daniel W. Bellavia
Each of us has experienced good years and bad years. Frank Sinatra famously crooned about the passage of time in his classic song, “It Was A Very Good Year.” Like most of our favorite things, what we think was original was in fact a remake. Few remember that the song originally written (by Ervin Drake) for the folk group The Kingston Trio. In our collective memory we can hear Sinatra famously sing, “When I was seventeen I had a very good year…” The song moves us through the times of a man’s life and ends with the sobering and joyful thought of aging like a fine wine in the autumn of our years.
I have now celebrated 55 New Years in my lifetime. Some of those years were better than others. Some were memorable, some were life changing, and some passed without any reason to comment on them. I can think back on very good years and some that were more bittersweet than ebullient. All, however, were a part of the rich tapestry of life that makes me who I am. And so, like Sinatra (and the Kingston Trio before him) I can sing about each year of my life as a very good year.
Kohelet, the proverbial author of Ecclesiastes, wrote (in a song written by folk singer Pete Seeger and popularized by the Byrds in the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” nearly 3000 years later) “for everything there is a season.” And in every year of our lives, we experience another season of life, each with its own pleasures and difficulties.
No one knows what lies ahead of us for 2022. Some will be born, and others will die. Some will see war and others peace. Some will weep and some will laugh. Only God knows what we will experience in the year to come and for every person that finds comfort in the sovereign will of God, there will be others who are terrified by the lack of control that God’s will portents.
As I grow older and mature in my faith, I have become more willing to give my future to God. I annually grow more cognizant of the futility of my own will and strength. Each year my ego dissolves into a humbler vision of my ability to shape a future outside of following where God leads me.
This does not mean that I do not plan, prepare, and work to meet goals, deadlines, and yields. I work as hard as I have ever worked in my life. The difference is not in what I do, but what I expect to change. As a young man I had confidence in my own abilities to charm, convince or otherwise “fix” my future and my tomorrows. I believed that I could “do it my way” and “make it anywhere” due to my abilities and work ethic.
Life and experience have taught me the error of my ways. As I enter the final years of my life, I do so with a new understanding and freedom in my faith. If there are indeed appointed times and seasons in our lives, then we are not only intended to recognize that death is a part of life, but so also is war, loss, illness, and difficulty. If death and loss is inevitable then we need to stop believing that somehow if we do enough things right, we can avoid these things.
55 is a very good year, as is 15, 35, 75, or 95. Each of them carry with them their own obstacles and joys. The fact that we are not 17 is not a thing to mourn, it is simply the truth of who we are. Life is not about the circumstances we face (we always will face trouble) it is about our attitudes in these moments.
The question for 2022 is not if this will be a good year. The question is, will we live it as a very good year. Will we engage in each day as an opportunity to bless each other and walk with God? Will we look forward to the days to come with the understanding that God is walking with us and leading us through good days and bad days?
Life is never easy. But this follower of Jesus is now wise enough to know that it is not supposed to be easy. Life is supposed to be blessed by the presence of God and each other as we walk both hills and valleys together.
So, raise a glass to 2021 and the year that was. And join me in looking forward to what God has in store for us in the days to come. In Christ and together, 2022 will (no matter what occurs) be a very good year.
May you have a blessed New Year!