One of the prettiest sights for me is to look out the window early in the morning and see my yard covered with new fallen snow. The snow hides all the imperfections of the yard—leaves still not raked, holes the dog and children have made, even the bald patches where the grass refuses to grow. But now, with the covering of snow, it seems perfect. This blanket of snow also brings with it a beautiful calmness to the air. The noise of daily life is muted for the moment. Everything is still, quiet, and clean.
This beauty does not last for long though, because this is not reality. We still have to face the day by getting ready to go to work or school. The dog still needs to be let out, which may take extra coaxing due to the depth of the snow. The mail still needs to be delivered and errands need to be run. Soon the perfect lawn is marred with footprints, pathways, and dirt. We remember where we left the snow shovel last winter and begin to tackle making a safe way to the street. Somewhere nearby, a neighbor starts up their snow blower and quickly clean off their driveway. The momentary bliss becomes dirty and noisy. This is reality.
The undisturbed snow reminds me of each January 1st when I look forward to using my new calendar. Whether this is an actual paper calendar or an electronic version, each year begins with a blank slate of pristine and empty squares. My calendar looks so tidy until I start to actually use it. Color coded appointments to keep, deadlines to meet, places to be soon occupy the emptiness. After spending considerable time filling in the squares, I relax, having found a new sense of order to my life, and I am ready to face the year. However, like my lawn on a snowy winter morning, my perfectly ordered calendar will see constant change as I really live my life. There is never a perfectly clean calendar but a messy one as constant changes adjust the picture of our lives. Our best laid out plans get marred by unscheduled and unavoidable events that we face daily. This is reality.
Knowing that I will face many unknown challenges in 2022, I need to look to God’s word for encouragement. In Philippians 3:13-14 we read, “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Paul draws our attention to the picture of someone running a race. The runner clearly sees the goal ahead and makes countless adjustments to the stride and course to win the race. Paul wrote these words as he faced the end of his earthly life and looked forward to winning his race of faith. He knew that the race would result in receiving the prize of eternal life with Christ. The God who loves unconditionally would be there to meet him.
Each year I file away my old calendar for future reference. I may need to find information about a meeting I kept or stats that someone needs for a project. I look through it to see if I was able to keep up with the goals I set for the previous year. Some months the calendar was particularly messy due to all the necessary changes made. I can see the documentation of plans I thought would work seamlessly but needed to be adjusted because of unforeseen situations occurring. But I am also reminded that although it appeared chaotic in the moment, the goal for the most part was ultimately kept.
As the year begins, I will sit down and set new goals for this year. Not just work tasks or personal goals, but I will take time to intentionally map some spiritual directions as well. I will prayerfully reflect on the past to see what obstacles I faced then and plot a path around them this year. And instead of letting myself get bogged down by the countless daily interruptions in my life, I will keep pressing forward toward the prize God has for me. I will choose to celebrate these interruptions as God ordained moments in my life. This is the reality I want to live this year.