ImageReflecting on what has happened during this last year, I cannot say that there has been anything that totally surprised me, which the Latins would have called de novo.  In fact I recall one of my favorite Biblical authors wrote in his autobiography that in his whole life he did not have a single original idea, despite the fact that he wrote more than sixty books.

During this last year, some ideas have deepened, some became more precious, and I have seen some in a different light.

At the top of my reflections is my continued marvel and amazement at love.  I continue to recite the psalm where David says "Who am I and my father's household that you have blessed me so much?" I read the Word of God and I cannot fully understand how the Holy Spirit resides in me and I am the temple of the Holy Spirit.  I cannot comprehend how God loves me in spite of all my failures, blunders, sins, shortcomings, you name it; and yet by the cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ, I continue to be the beloved son of God. Probably, the expression of my feeling of God's love is Wesley hymn where he says, "Amazing love, how can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me!"

The second is the uncertainty of life here on earth.  As I watched together with everybody else the stocks plunging down more than 33%, I asked myself if I together with millions have placed our retirement hopes in our stocks and not on God. I have looked over those passages where God is telling us about today - give us today our daily bread; do not worry about tomorrow; do not say we will go and do such and such a thing.  I have also reflected on God's provision of manna - gathering enough for each day and trusting God for the next day.  Those who decided to double their collection of the manna found out that it was inedible on the next day.  I remember one of those odd verses in the prophets - "cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days, you will find it again."

The third is the value of friendships.  While reading our Christmas letters, it was fantastic to see how the intersections of our lives have enriched us.  Some friends are with us on a regular basis and some appear and disappear, but they have made us different through what they said and did.  A friend preached on the text "I have brought you from the land of slavery so that you will walk with your head held high." This has nothing to do with pride.  My father used this verse in training me how to stand up for what is right and when I heard this friend preach this verse, I knew that he wanted to impart the same truth to his listeners.  We were friends, we were co-workers and we have molded one another.

The last reflection is that being a family is difficult work.  There is no music in the air when one changes a diaper, the angels do not provide cross county transportation for the weekend social life of a daughter and some things do not change with the passing of time, but need slow, direct surgical procedures.  Yet a smile makes one forget how the diaper stunk, a hug at the end of the day is beyond description and someone observing the great character of one of the kids when the parents have struggled for such a long time to achieve that, makes one turn to their spouse and say, "We have done something right.  By the grace of God, we have done something right!"