Life is about beginnings and endings, it seems – and that’s often brought home sharply at the close of a calendar year, and the onset of another New Year. For many this period offers opportunity for serious reflection on the recent past, and on the months ahead. We’re all familiar with the much-maligned practice of ‘resolution’ making, which can be viewed as either an exercise in frivolity, or a brave attempt to make lifestyle adjustments.

Of course, the ultimate in beginnings and endings are births and deaths…signifying arrival on, and departure from this ‘mortal coil’. But in between those momentous occasions, we face untold beginnings and endings – a new school, that first job, a fresh relationship possibly leading on to marriage and family, an untimely bereavement, a bitter divorce, a harsh redundancy – all of which either add to, or take from our sense of well-being.

Change is part of being human – we never stand still, never stay the same from one year to the next. Even so change can be un-expected, and dreadfully painful, yes unwelcome – consider the family whose precious daughter is snatched away by a senseless act of murder, just days before Christmas…their lives will never be the same again.

When passing through change, with some familiar things ending (disappearing) and new challenges ahead, we may be pressed to make agonisingly difficult choices – often leaving us bewildered and uncertain…“Did I choose wisely, correctly” we ask ourselves. Again, certain seasons of transition may be forced upon us, through no action, fault or decision of our own, stretching our emotional and psychological resources to the limit…

An ancient prophet, by the name of Jeremiah, does offer some very powerful insights for such occasions…he wrote (and I’ve used capitals for emphasis): “Blessed is the man (person) who trusts in the LORD, whose trust IS the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear WHEN HEAT COMES, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious IN THE YEAR OF DROUGHT, for it does not cease to bear fruit”.

This arboreal image teaches us much (spiritually-speaking) about our location, our roots, our resilience, and our fruitfulness – even in adverse circumstances. Yes, we’re encouraged to trust in the One who not only holds the future but also, who IS the future. Following the One who claims to be both the Beginning & the Ending, the First & the Last – and, by implication, everything in between – hopefully raises our awareness of being held in a safe place.

My prayer for us all in 2011: “Lord God, increasingly conscious of our human frailty we purposefully choose to trust in You. May sovereign grace and loving kindness strengthen and sustain us every day of this New Year. May we bring great pleasure to You in all we are, and do, and so honour Your glorious Name, Amen”

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