Give me a word, Lord: CLOSE EVERY GATE

Psalm 30:13-17 O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!

Today is New Year’s Eve, and this day marks the close of what most consider a pretty awful year. I have always been one to do a year end review at the end of each year as I reflect back on all of the blessings of the previous year. Despite the tragedies of this past year, there have still been a multitude of blessings. Tonight, our family will complete reading through the entire Bible as a family. We did this a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it so much. This year, we read the New Living Translation version, and we read and saw things that we had not even noticed before. God’s Word came alive as we read through the chapters nightly, and oh what a blessing we received. My husband, Jeff, retired from offshore a few years ago to manage our farm and help his dad out with his farm. He wasn’t looking for a job, but a new job fell right into his lap. It has been such a blessing. He is mostly working from home, and he is still able to do all of the farm work that needs to be completed. I have retained my job through this trying year. Many people lost their jobs, suffered pay cuts, and lay-offs, but I didn’t suffer the loss of even one days wage, not even when I missed two weeks work due to COVID. That was definitely a blessing. Our oldest is about to start a new and wonderful adventure. His beautiful wife started a new role in her employment this year and loves it. She is also working on her Master’s Degree while working full time. They have given us the most wonderful grandson, and he started kindergarten this year. He is bright and inquisitive, and he is an absolute joy. Our second son lost his job offshore, but was immediately blessed with a new position locally which he enjoyed, and before the year end, he was offered a new position offshore. His beautiful wife changed employment too, and due to the pandemic, she has had more days at home. We have been blessed with getting to see her a little more often. Our third son is residing with his biological parents in Arkansas, and he is starting a family of his own. Our youngest graduated high school this year and completed a Certified Nurse Assistant program. She spread her wings and sought out her biological parents this year and spent time with them, but she eventually flew back home to us. We live on an eighty acre park-like paradise with animals galore. Our home isn’t the finest one out there, but it suits us perfectly. It is cozy and warm, and it is full of family and life. We’ve endured sickness this year, and God protected us and healed us. We’ve all grown a year older, and with that year, with have been enriched with much wisdom! 2020 wasn’t really that bad after all, was it?

I chose the scripture from Psalm 90 this morning. The context of this Psalm is not a very happy one, and therefore, I felt it speaks to the heart of 2020. This is a Psalm of Moses and it was written in a time when God’s people were “consumed by [God’s] anger” and “overwhelmed” by God’s wrath (90:7) because of their “iniquities” (90:8). Nevertheless, beneath the bad news of God’s judgment lies a bedrock of confidence in God’s everlasting goodness. Rejoicing and prosperity will come again (90:14, 17). The psalm reveals a reflection of the timelessness of God, the shortness of our lives, and it reveals our dependence on God’s grace in order for our efforts to be successful. This year has been difficult. It has been hard. It has been long. Everyone is anxiously awaiting the New Year with hopes that it will be a better one as we close the gate on 2020. Let us closed the gate and latch it securely as we rejoice in God’s blessings and have faith in our futures knowing He holds us in His hands.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916-1922, George Lloyd, was playing golf with a friend when they had to go through a gate. His golfing partner pushed the gate closed, but he did not latch it. George noticed this, and he went back and secured the gate. Then George told of an old doctor friend who lay dying. After calling his family and friends to his bedside, he gave these parting words, “Close every gate through which you have passed.” Lloyd George went on to say that he owed more to that bit of wisdom than to anything else he had ever heard. I think we can glean some great knowledge from this as well. Life on the farm has taught us many times how important securing a gate when exiting can be. An unsecured gate can lead to a whole lot of extra work on the farm if the cows get out! Around here, every gate that is opened is then closed and latched. I even double check the latch most of the time!

Figuratively, as the sands of time trickle down at the close of this year, we need to close the gate. We need to latch it securely and walk away as we move into the coming year. Let’s close the gate on yesterday’s heartaches and failures. How do we close the gate? We must forgive and forget. God graciously forgives our mistakes and our failures, and when he does, he wipes the slate completely clean. The gate is closed. Once that gate is closed, we have to make sure it is securely latched. How do we do this? We forgive ourselves. This can be hard, especially if we spend the the end of the year reviewing all of our mistakes and failures rather than seeing the goodness and blessings of the past year, but God sent His Son to show us ultimate forgiveness. He sent the perfect example. He has forgiven us, and therefore, we can forgive ourselves, and we can then latch the gate securely, and move forward just as God wants us too. Why do cars have huge windshields and tiny little rearview mirrors? We need to check behind us occasionally, but we need to focus on what is in front of us! The future is bright my friends! Let us close the gate on 2020 and start walking cheerfully into 2021. Just keep holding onto the hand of the Lord and rest knowing that God has got you!

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