Sunday, 30 December 2012

The ends of 2012

In a couple of days 2012 will come to an end. Of course we are not surprised at this fact because we have known that this would happen. Perhaps we will be glad to know that it is over because we have experienced difficulties during it. Or we may be sad that it will have gone because many interesting, even exciting things happened to us during it. Perhaps it has flown by very quickly or perhaps it has seemed very long. Whatever our experience, we know that 2012 will conclude tomorrow evening.
Yet we also know that the word ‘end’ has another meaning in addition to ‘conclusion’. The alternative meaning is ‘purpose’ and we are familiar with this usage of the word in the first question of the Shorter Catechism, ‘What is man’s chief end?’ When we consider it from the point of view of purpose, we can think of two different ones – God’s purpose for 2012 and our purpose for 2012.
I’m sure most of us had purposes for 2012 back at the end of December 2011. Some of them may only have been possibilities, like where we would go on holiday. These purposes may not have happened and we can forget about them. Yet other of our purposes might have been more serious, especially if they were connected to our spiritual lives. We may have decided back then that in 2012 we would pray more regularly, read the Bible more frequently, witness for Jesus when opportunities came our way, etc. We may have failed to do them, despite having plenty time (twelve months). In that regard, the end of 2012 was not achieved. How should we respond to our failure? The answer is that we should go to God and repent, and he will forgive us. And we should ask for grace to help us achieve our spiritual goals in 2013.
Of course, a lot of us may have managed to implement some of our spiritual ‘ends’ in 2012. If that is the case, such should give thanks to God. Yet even when that progress has been achieved, we cannot assume that we have reached a spiritual plateau from which we cannot descend, and descend quickly, in 2013. God will expect us to maintain, with his help, the ‘ends’ we have for the coming year.
Some of us may have intended to be converted in 2012. Yet the year has passed and the change has not happened. You are aware that time is passing, and very rapidly. The reason that you are not converted is not God’s fault. On any of the moments of every day in 2012 you could have gone to him and asked for pardon for your sins. You could have received his mercy. Yet you can still do so in 2012, because today and tomorrow remain. But you should not delay because none of us knows when our personal opportunities will be gone forever.
The other Person who had ‘ends’ in 2012 is God. We come to the close of the year aware that we have failed, even when we have made some progress. Yet the Lord has accomplished everything he planned for 2012. He has not failed to any extent in anything that he purposed to do. His purpose is so large that we cannot comprehend a fraction of it. But he always knows all of it, and he never fails. At the end of one year and at the beginning of another, it is good for us to know that the Lord is capable in all he does and remains sovereign over all.