This week I heard a sermon by Alistair Begg that seemed to affirm my thinking about the New Year. Begg said, "God gives you the ticket for the next leg of your journey only after you start the journey."
Alistair used the example of Corrie Ten Boom who, as a young woman, planned to take a trip by train in several months. Corrie told her father about the trip and asked him to purchase the train ticket in advance. He did not seem to be in a rush as his daughter was. So he put off buying the the ticket.
Corrie reminder her Dad about the ticket almost every day. By nagging her father it appeared she did believe he would buy the ticket. She wanted the ticket in her possession before she embarked on the trip.
Finally, the day of the trip arrived. On the day she actually began her expedition, Corrie's father gave her the ticket.
Begg commented, "God only gives you the ticket you need after you started on your journey."
If you want 2008 to be a year of stagnancy, my best advice is to wait. That's right. Do nothing. Just wait and you will enjoy 365 days of inertia. You will spend the new year, looking for a ticket, asking the Lord to give you that ticket in order to make that journey into a new career or to fulfill a dream you've been talking about for almost a decade.
You know what I mean. Each year you hear yourself say, "This is the year, God is going to hand me that ticket. This is the year!"
Let's try something really new this year.
I suggest you spend the year hanging around train stations . . . without a ticket. What do I mean?
If you want to change your career, spend this year researching that new occupation; interview people already in the career you want to enter; arrange some way where you can offer your time volunteering to help in an office where you can see your dream job in action; and live as though you are already in the job and see if it is a good fit.
In other words, begin the journey before you get the ticket.
If God is who He says He is. He will be on time to give you that ticket. However, you have to spend time hanging around the station.
Whatever it is you want from the Lord, do your homework. Become an expert on a town or state you want to move to. Become as smart as a doctor on an illness you want to see God being healing to.
If you're interested in a person for a possible relationship, find out who he or she is. Tear down the walls of illusion and fantasy. Ask around and check this potential mate out through the eyes of others. You might discover you really don't want to embark on any journey with that person. He may turn out to be a total dud!
The same is true for financial decisions or making major purchases such as a house or new car. Do your homework. Don't settle for anything else but the real thing. Don't make a sour deal into a good one just because you really want it.
So, let's agree to not spend the year waiting for a ticket. Begin the journey.
Even if there's no train in the station, it is going to come. Yes, you'll need a ticket. But once the train pulls into the station, be sure this train in headed in the direction that matches the desire of your heart. God will honor your choice to step on the train, knowing you did your research and made a wise choice. He will also honor your decision to not step on that train, knowing you're not operating out of impulsive emotions but out of wisdom and a solid trust in Him.
God does not push people onto trains nor in the path of oncoming trains. You've heard the Christian cliche: if you don't want to go to Africa to be a missionary, then that's the place God wants you to go. What rubbish! So when we speak of God giving us the desires of our heart as in Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart," are we to think He really means to say, "He will give you the desires of His own heart and discount your needs?"
Why do we play such games with God? He made us and He knows our talents, skills and passions. He works in accordance with the person He has made us to be. We are not robots or God's puppets. Trust Him that when you step on that train to your next destination, it will be a choice both pleasing to you and to Him.
My New Year's resolution? All aboard!!!!!