Thoughts From the Porch
New Year’s Eve is usually a big party. I prefer to save celebration for New Year’s Day itself. Maybe I’m simply getting older, but I tend to leave the New Year’s Eve celebrations to younger folks. I don’t do the big crowds and the midnight countdowns anymore. Besides, it’ll be 2020 when I wake up right?
I greet the New Year with a group of great men who get together for an annual 8:00 AM breakfast meeting. Later, I get to enjoy some home cooking at Ms. Opal’s house with a multitude of friends. I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year.
The breakfast was great. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to participate in the lunch portion of the day. We opted for an emergency room visit instead. Margaret was getting out of the car at Ms. Opal’s and turned the wrong way causing a loud click and immediate swelling on the leg still healing from October’s break.
Prior to running off to the ER we were able to eat a bowl of black-eyed peas. I’m not sure any medical emergency supersedes eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. They must’ve brought good luck right away. The ER visit found only a sprain rather than a break (the whole “good news, bad news” thing). Please keep Margaret in your thoughts and prayers. Sprains are still painful…
An aside… Did you know that sprains involve ligaments while strains involve muscles? I never knew that… Anyway…
New Year’s Day always felt like the opportunity for a “do-over”. Each year I would resolve to change the negative thoughts and behaviors of the past year. I’d quit smoking, I’d make better use of my time, I’d start going to the gym, etc. You know the routine. January 1st was a restart date, a reinvention of myself. In my younger days, my resolutions would last at least a couple of weeks. Later, they were lucky to last until lunch.
I’m not big on resolutions anymore. I’m not saying I’ve given up or life changes don’t need to be made. I still set goals – targets to aim for. I’ve also learned I tend set some goals as if I still had a twenty-somethings body instead of an older slower version of myself. Although I find that, more often than not, I set my targets far too low. About the time I think I’ve achieved my goal God steps in and reminds me how short-sighted I can be.
I’m reminded of a story my friend Edgar passed on to me many years ago. There was a man who died and went to heaven. Saint Peter was conducting the new arrival’s orientation and showing all the great things there were to see. It truly was heavenly. Towards the end of the tour, the man noticed a fenced in lot containing all kinds of fancy cars, yachts, and expensive ‘toys’.
“What’s that over there?” he asked.
Saint Peter looked where he was pointing. “Oh, that. That’s God’s junkyard”.
“Junkyard! What do mean? That stuff is incredible”.
Saint Peter shrugged nonchalantly. “That’s just unused junk. It’s stuff people prayed for and didn’t want.”
“Didn’t want?” the man asked incredulously. “Who wouldn’t want things like that?”
Saint Peter pointed to a beautiful Mercedes Benz sedan. “See that. That one was yours, but you didn’t want it”.
“What do you mean I didn’t want it? I would’ve loved it”.
Saint Peter smiled and said, “Do you remember back in 1982, when you had just started a new job after being unemployed for so long. The unemployment checks had run out and they were going to turn off your utilities when you found that job, but then our car blew up after just a couple of weeks. You thought you’d lose the new job since you had no way to get there. It was looking awfully hopeless”.
“Yea. I remember that. I sure didn’t get a Mercedes though”.
“Well, that was the car God picked out to replace it until you prayed “even a ’73 Pinto is okay if I can get to work…”
I think of that story every time I begin to pray for specifics or start thinking I know what’s best for me: the goals I’ve set; resolutions I’ve made.
Instead of making resolutions this year I’m going to let go of my small-minded thinking and allow God to take me where He wants me to be.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. (Psalm 37.4)