This morning my wife Melissa and I talked about the New Year. I explained to her that the New Year isn’t as significant to me as my birthday that comes later in the month because of the experiences I had growing up in Birmingham in the 80’s and 90’s when I was in high school.
The crimes in Birmingham’s urban area at that time didn’t make national news like many of the recent tragedies that occur in suburban areas today. But if you lived in the city at that time there were fights, stabbings, and shootings every week at parties, high school football games, basketball games, the skating ring, the teen clubs, the mall parking lots, the movie theaters, and just about any other place you could imagine.
Some of the violence was gang related but there were also cases where teenagers were being killed and robbed for their sneakers and jackets. Even though I was raised in a loving family and was an honors student at a magnet high school, I had a gun pulled on me at band practice after school one day because a drug dealer wanted my sunglasses. As a result of all this violence I had friends that didn’t live to see our high school graduation more than 20 years ago. So, for me, I’m more thankful for being alive to see another year of my personal life than I am the new calendar year.
After sharing this with my wife, she said I should have more joy and that I have a reason to celebrate. She said life’s too short to be so serious all the time. She suggested I shouldn’t allow the New Year or my birthday to pass by without truly letting loose and celebrating the life God has given me. I agree. Life is too short to focus on the stresses of life, to get too wrapped up in the struggle to be successful, or to risk our happiness by living recklessly.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14b NKJV
We should not allow our hearts to be brought low by the losses of our past. We shouldn’t put all of our hope in the future we do not know. Life can reach it’s end as quickly as a vapor vanishes away. Instead, we should rejoice today in the life we have in God and place our hope in Him alone. Every breath we breathe and day we live is a blessing from God. We should celebrate the New Year with thankful hearts filled with gladness. Happy New Year!