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Several years ago I received a homemade seasonal card from a young girl in the church with the words, “I wish you a ‘Merry’ Christmas and a New Year.” I chuckled at the omission of “happy,” but enjoyed the card all the more. Most of us want a new year and we hope it will be a happy one.
Physicians write prescriptions for their patients’ health. I want to suggest a prescription for a happy New Year.
The year 2018 may have been less than a happy year for some of us. For instance, do you begin and continue the day feeling depressed and discouraged? Do you drag through your work, finding little pleasure in it? Is the situation in your home what could be described as happy or healthy? What is the quality of the relationships between parents and children, between husband and wife, and between you and your neighbors or fellow workers?
Did you find time during the year to do the important and enduring things? Is time your master or is time your servant? Does your job or profession benefit humanity, or do you work just to make money for a living? Did you fall victim during the year to the same temptations and sins as before?
Is there some prescription available that can help us to have a healthy and happy 2019? I believe so, and I want to suggest a five-part prescription.
A primary ingredient is to give your life to Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. I have come that you might have life, and more abundantly.” The resources of God are readily available to the children of God. Nothing in life will have much meaning unless and until we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
A second ingredient is to begin and continue each day with God. Henry Ward Beecher said, “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.” One’s waking thoughts should result in thanking God for a night of rest and for the gift of a new day. And then one should proceed by using the day in keeping with an awareness that the day is God’s gift. When we begin our days this way, our work, outlook and objectives can be transformed and energized. The psalmist (Psalms 118:24) left us these words, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” I quote this every morning, and I refuse to let anyone or anything mess up my day.
A third ingredient is that we should live one day at a time. Apparently most people have not discovered this essential secret of victorious living. The infinite wisdom of God devised life so that we can only live one day at a time. Just think what the difference might be if we stayed awake for a month and slept for a month. Each day has enough difficulty without our dragging along yesterday’s problems and fearing what tomorrow might bring.
While I visited an elderly woman many years ago, she sounded discouraged about her physical condition. I told her, “Oh, you might live to be a hundred.” She said she wasn’t sure she wanted to live to be a hundred. I asked her if she wanted to live today, and she indicated that she did. I told her to thank God for today and to live it with thanksgiving, and that when and if tomorrow comes, take that one day and every day with thanksgiving.
A fourth ingredient is to budget and make wise use of your time. Benjamin Franklin said, “Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” All of us waste time, but we waste more than we should because we do not budget our time. We need to plan time for family, for physical and spiritual nurture, for reading, for Bible study and worship and for ministering to others.
A fifth ingredient in the prescription is to find and work in a vocation that honors God and benefits humanity. All work can be drab and routine, but it can become exciting and productive if a person goes about his or her work with a feeling of serving God’s purposes. When serving God is more important than wages earned, personal achievement or recognition, then we will honor him and benefit others while getting the best out of life for ourselves.
Perhaps you can think of other ingredients in a prescription for a happy new year. I hope your year will be a “happy” one.
Ray Hodge is a retired Baptist pastor living in Smithfield. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.