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The Beauty of Every Day: Chapter 17 - Through the Year with God

By J.R. Miller

      In ancient heathen religions, there were deities for times and places. The gods were local. In passing through countries, the traveler would passing from under the jurisdiction and protection of one deity today--to the sway and shelter of another tomorrow.

      But where the one true God is known and worshiped, we have no such perplexity in finding divine care. We do not have to change Gods as we pass from place to place. Our God is the God of the mountains and of the valleys, of the land and the sea, of the day and of the night. He is the God of all nations and wherever we journey, to the remotest parts of the world, we are always in his kingdom. We never can get away from beneath the shadow of the wings of Jehovah. There is something wonderfully comforting in this truth of the universality of God and his care.

      Then God is also the God of all time. "Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations. . . . Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God."

      Two friends may set out, side by side, at the beginning of a year, hoping to walk together to the year's end--but they are not sure that they will. Their fellowship may continue--but many set out together who do not complete the year in company. One is taken--and the other left. We are sure, however, that nothing can interrupt our walk with God. The great Companion cannot die. Though our earthly life ends--we still shall be with God. Nothing can separate us from him.

      This is a sweet thought for a new year--that we go through it with God. The sentiment is devout and fitting. Whether we do it conscientiously and reverently, or without thought, unconsciously, we shall certainly go through the year with God. We cannot help it. We cannot get away from him. The atheist thought to teach his child his own beliefs and wrote for her, "God is nowhere." But the child spelled out the words, and in her own simplicity, made them read, "God is now here."

      We cannot get away from God any hour of the year, whatever we may do. It is better, however, that we go through the year consciously with God. Then we shall experience continually the joy of his presence, the inspiration of his love, and the guidance of his hand.

      We write in our letters, Anno Domini, "In the year of our Lord." There is something very beautiful and suggestive in this. Our years are all really years of our Lord. We should make them so indeed--years of Christ. This means that we should remember they are his--not the world's, not ours--but Christ's. Only he should be permitted to direct us; all the work we do should be for him, and all our life we should live to get his approval. Thus we shall make the years, in fact--as they are in name--years of our Lord.

      We want to give our whole year to God--but we can do this only by giving him the days one by one as we begin them. An English clergyman says that one of the most influential memories he cherishes of his father, is that every morning, as he went out from his home to his work, he would say solemnly in the presence of his family, "I go forth this day in the name of the Lord."

      God breaks up our life into days to make it easier for us. We could not carry at one load, the burden of a whole year--we would break under it--so he gives us only a day at a time. Anybody ought to be able to get through a single day, whatever its duty, its care, or its suffering. The trouble too often is, that we look at a whole year at one glimpse, and it dismays us to think that we have all its accumulated burdens to bear, and tasks and duties to do. We forget that we have only one thing to do for any minute--and we can easily do that.

      One step and then another,
      And the longest walk is ended.
      One stitch, and then another,
      And the longest rent is mended.
      One brick upon another,
      And the highest wall is made.
      One flake upon another,
      And the deepest snow is laid.

      Then do not look disheartened,
      On the work you have to do;
      And say that such a mighty task
      You never can got through;
      But just endeavor, day by day,
      Another point to gain,
      And soon the mountain which you feared,
      Will prove to be a plain!

      One of the secrets of a beautiful life, is found in this simple rule: living day by day. We can go through one little day with God, whatever its path may be. When we rise in the morning, we may give ourselves to him just for the day. We do not know what it will have for us--joy or sorrow, ease or hardship--but it does not matter. Whatever God gives or sends--we must accept and do sweetly, faithfully, the very best we can.

      The day may have interruptions, and our own plans may have to be set aside. But such interruptions are only bits of God's will sent into our schedule--in place of our own thoughts of duty. If we are going through the day with God, we need never be troubled about not getting all our self-imposed tasks finished, if only we have done God's will each hour. What we could not do--was not ours to do--for that day at least. What of our own planning was set aside by God's plan, we need not fret over, for God's allotment is better than ours.

      If we are going through the year with God, we need have no fear for the difficulties or the hindrances of the way. The path will be opened for us as we go on, though it be through mountains, and the seeming obstacles will not only disappear as we come up to them--but will prove to be stairways or stepping-stones to higher planes, gates to new blessings. As Peter followed the angel, his chains fell off, the doors and gates opened of their own accord, and he was led out of his prison into the free air and back to his work. In every faithful and obedient Christian life-- hindrances become helps!

      Making the journey with God--is assurance that every step is a real and true advance. Some people come to birthdays regretfully. They do not like to think that they are growing older. But there is no reason for regret, if only we are living our years as we should live them, as we may live them. Empty years are a dishonor. Years filled with sin are blots in the calendar. We should be ashamed to come to a birthday at the close of a year of idleness, indolence, neglect, or unfaithfulness. Jesus said we must give account for every idle word we speak. It will be an unhappy reckoning that we must make, after an idle year, or for idle hours and days in a year.

      But there need never be a shadow of regret in coming to a birthday or to a new year, when we have lived our best through all the days. If we go through a year walking with God--we shall come to its close with enlarged life, with nobler character, with richer virtues, in every way a more godly man or woman.

      Growth is a law of life. When growth ceases, death is beginning. Men count the age of trees by the circles which the years make. God counts our age, not by the date in the old family register--but by the advances which his eye sees in our inner life. If a man is put down as seventy year old, and has lived only one year with God, he is really only one year old, not seventy.

      Growth, too, is not marked by height or weight or by accumulations of money or property or earthly honor--but by an increase in godly character. You may be more popular at the end of a year, people may know you better, you may be more in the newspapers--but these are not the real measurements of life. You may be a really smaller man at the growth of the notoriety you have achieved, than you were without fame.

      The journey through the year with God, should be joyous from beginning to end. A life of praise is the ideal life. No other is beautiful. Yet praise is by no means universal even among Christians. Somehow many people do not train themselves to see the glad things. There are a thousand times more things to make us glad--than to make us sad.

      A writer tells of cycling in England with a friend. They were flying down a hill, through a woods. The friend stopped and jumped off his wheel, and they both stood and listened. From the woods on either side came songs of nightingales--one, two, three, four, five, six. It is marvelous how much music God can put into a little bird's throat. The forest seemed filled with song. The loneliest places in life are thus filled with music--if we have ears to hear what the myriad voices say. The trouble with too many people, is that their ears misinterpret the sounds that fall upon them. They hear only sadness, while they ought to hear songs. If we would learn to find even the thousandth part of the good there is in the world, we would sing all the way. Thus we would have ail our life transfigured.

      To go through the year with God--is the noblest, divinest, blessedest thing anyone can do. It will lead the feet on an upward path every step of the way. Though the outward life waste, the inward life shall be renewed day by day.

Back to J.R. Miller index.

See Also:
   Chapter 1 - While We May
   Chapter 2 - The Glory of the Common Life
   Chapter 3 - Seeds of Light
   Chapter 4 - He Calls Us Friends
   Chapter 5 - Not Counting God
   Chapter 6 - Perfection in Loving
   Chapter 7 - Shut Your Door
   Chapter 8 - Things That Hurt Life
   Chapter 9 - Getting Away from Our Past
   Chapter 10 - Thomas' Mistake
   Chapter 11 - Friends and Friendship
   Chapter 12 - The Yoke and the School
   Chapter 13 - The Weak Brother
   Chapter 14 - The Lure of the Ministry
   Chapter 15 - Narrow Lives
   Chapter 16 - The True Enlarging of Life
   Chapter 17 - Through the Year with God
   Chapter 18 - The Remembers
   Chapter 19 - Caring for the Broken Things


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