January 10, 2014

Gateway to the New Year by Sharon Espeseth

Taking down the kitchen calendar, I couldn’t help but notice the cluttered squares representing each day of 2013. Using White-out to clean it up would be ridiculous. Instead this historical record will go on the pile of similar calendars in the closet.

Posting the 2014 replacement calendar, I smile at its white spaces. Although some appointments are already noted, the pages look snowy clean by comparison. Pen tracks will gradually personalize these pristine pages too. Who know what events, emergencies, and milestones will fill these squares.

Standing at the gate of the New Year is not a new idea by any means, but still it's worth considering. Janus, the mythological Roman god, was considered the Gatekeeper of the New Year. If I needed a gatekeeper, I wouldn't choose a Roman mythological being. I do however like the image of Janus looking back over what has happened and looking ahead to anticipate what might come. Like Janus, I too glance back at the bumpy and diverse roads I've traveled and I do wonder about the future.

Grandsons Caleb and Logan pose for a "Janus" photo.
Photo by Jenny Bayes

Today we are encouraged to live in the present, so much so that it seems we are discouraged from giving serious consideration to the past or the future. Take that memoir writers and goal setters!

This strong living-in-the-present philosophy may have stemmed from Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher from before the time of Christ, who said, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

I agree that if we let ourselves get stuck in the past or dwell too much on the future, this may not be mentally healthy. I have heard present-day psychologists explain in simple terms that worrying about the past causes depression and worrying about the future causes anxiety. It isn’t thinking about the past or the future that would cause us harm; rather it is worrying about the past or the future, neither of which we can do anything about, that would cause us harm.

In Matthew 6: 34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Following Christ’s teaching, I feel no guilt about looking behind me to see where I’ve been, nor looking ahead to set goals for growth and improvement in the year ahead.

I see value in looking backward and forward from the moment I am experiencing. I am thankful for the blessings of the past, for lessons learned, and for the people who’ve helped me to become the person I am.

From a faith perspective, our errors, oversights, or sins of the past can be forgiven. Christ died for that purpose, and I am thankful the old calendar of my life has been wiped clean. Isn’t that something to write about? Like Moses, I have stories to record and share. My lessons learned may be of benefit to others.

As for the New Year ahead, I have hope. No, I don’t know the future, but I know the One who does. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God gave us the message, “’For I know the plans I have for you. . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Prayer: Lord, I trust you to be the Gatekeeper to my past, present, and future. May I ever trust in You, who are my Shepherd and my Gatekeeper.

          Sharon Espeseth



  1. Thank you for these encouraging words, Sharon. It is always best to leave every aspect of our lives - past, present and future - in the capable hands of our Lord.

  2. Great quotes - and yes we can look back and forward but we must live in today with Christ to guide us.
    Janis www.janiscox.com

  3. Thank you, Tracy and Janis, for your comments. And I so agree with you that all of our times are better in God's hands. "

    As the psalmist says, "My times are in thy hands."
    Ps. 31:15. There is a 1800s hymn based on these words. Old fashioned, grand, and beautiful.


  4. Sharon, what an insightful post! You're right - in our culture we do tend to talk a lot about living in the present and enjoying each moment. You make some excellent points about having a healthy regard for the past without dwelling on hurts and other negative things. Nor is it helpful to fret about what "might" happen in the future. I like your reminder that we can focus instead on God and his good plans for us.


  5. Thanks, Marcia. You have summed up my thoughts and my post to a tee. I think it is important to focus on the present and on God's guidance, but I don't believe it is necessary, or even mentally or spiritually healthy, to forget the past or disregard the future.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for the reflective look at our year and also the vision for the future. It is good to put it safely into the Lord's hands. We do not know what lies ahead but Jesus knows us fully. Your thoughts remind me of that poem, "I said to the man at the gate of the year . . ."

  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Pam. I hadn't thought of this poem for some time, so I looked it up. With the Internet, we have so many good things at our fingertips.

    I also like what Violet Nesdoly says in her blog post today: "Remember, you write your plans in pencil. Only God writes in ink." Thanks for that, Vi.

  9. Oh Sharon, I so enjoyed your posting. Some good thoughts about honouring each aspect of our lives -- our past, our present, our future. I do agree.

    Interesting observation that perhaps we in our generation are too much focused on the present to the detrimental exclusion of remembering our past and planning for the future.

    As my dear husband enjoys reminding us, Moderation and balance in all things.

    Thanks, Sharon!


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.