I don’t know about you, but this hasn’t been a very good year for me.  Lots of personal issues — health, marriage, family — have nearly gotten the best of me this year.  I’m ready to start over fresh.  I just want this year to be over already.

I keep hoping that somehow a new year will automatically erase the slate clean and I can begin again anew with hope for a brighter tomorrow.  Every year around this time I have these same feelings.  Feelings of opportunity, redemption for past broken resolutions, and those of hope.  Hope that everything will be better this coming year; that everything will somehow correct themselves naturally, aligning themselves in just the right order so that I can have a better, more enduring chance at a life without so much stress, failure, drama (lots of drama this year for some reason), and the like.

My main thought for the new year has been progress. I don’t know why, but that word has been on the tip of my mental tongue for weeks now, and I can’t help but go back to it when life slows down enough for me to get a glimpse of it again. Progress. Not necessarily prosperity, although that has its own measure of progress, I suppose; but progress. Forward movement; the idea that you’ve actually completed a task, gotten it done, and can claim it accomplished.  That’s what I’d like to work toward in 2010.  I’d like to see some good old-fashioned progress in my life.

A goal other than this I’ve decided I’d like to try to keep next year is to be more active.  For the past several years I’ve wanted to get my hunting license and go deer hunting; something I hated when I was younger.  It seems I have so much adrenaline pumping through me at all times that I have to channel it — vent it — somewhere, somehow, some way.  But once again I’ve not been able to afford it.  Well, I won’t stand for it again come next year.  In February, when the licenses go on sale again, I’ll buy a fishing/hunting license if I have to use my tax money to do it!  I plan on hunting small game at first (getting some brisk walking and hiking in) and fishing every chance I get.  This will save on groceries if I can bring enough meat home.  It will also be healthier than all those processed meats at the grocery store that are loaded with hormones and high sodium brine preservatives.

I’m just give out.  It’s been a tough year.  Some people in our church died this year and that was hard.  Now the church is dwindling down to around 8 or 10 people every Sunday … if we’re lucky.  No one seems interested in their souls anymore.  Life’s been tough, yeah, but that only makes me want to draw closer to my Father in Heaven; my Creator.  He’s the one who has all the answers anyway!

Which reminds me.  I did get an uplift this week.  It happened in Sunday School (which I teach).  We’re going through the Psalms, and we were in Psalm 17 this week.  Well, when I teach, I learn a lot more than I do when I just study in my own time at home.  Things just occur to me when I step back and try to teach; new ideas come along and sometimes blow me away.  Something like that happened this week.

I read down the Psalm and started to read it over again one verse at a time to go over it verse by verse.  When I got down to around verse 12, I realized that David was fighting an enemy that fought dirty.  This was an enemy whose next move David couldn’t predict.  He described his enemies as lions lurking about secretly. They were compassing (surrounding) him and his army and he couldn’t see where they were coming from.  So he did the best thing he could have done.  He called on God.  David, a king, a man of war and a general of his own army, humbled himself and basically said, “I’ve seen everything, every tactic, every maneuver, every strategy, but how can I predict something that’s ever-changing and too secretive to predict?”  He was facing an unseen enemy lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike.

Only God knows what we face each and every day.  This past Sunday, I realized that though Paul the apostle said that he wasn’t ignorant of Satan’s devices, sometimes he fights dirty and calls an “audible” on the play.  And if we’re not prepared, we’ll certainly be caught off guard and, ultimately, defeated.

So, I guess what I’m trying to convey is that I want to go forward this next year with God leading the way.  Even though I know things may happen to try to ruin 2010 for me, I also know that God knows what tactics the enemy will use and what dirty schemes he’s up to.  I know that he knows how to deal with it.  The only thing I have to do in those situations is wait.  And that takes patience, something which I’m not very good at.  But that’s a whole other blog.

Good luck to everyone out there hoping to move forward in this next year.  May 2010 be a changing point in your lives for the good.  And as I learned in high school Spanish I class: Vaya con Dios!