15th January 2015 | Tom Rowley | 1 comments

Hopey New Year

As new year resolve fades and resolutions fail, I offer a more hope-filled alternative: keep your eyes on Jesus.

In a world where people are dying, the climate is changing and species are going extinct—a world that is in biblical terms utterly “groaning”—to do otherwise is simply untenable. Like Peter, trying to walk on the Sea of Galilee, we can look at the situation and sink. Or we can fix our gaze on Christ who creates, redeems and reconciles all things, the Savior who grabs our trembling outstretched hands and encourages us on.

Easier said than done, I know. The wind stings our eyes and the waves claw our legs. The “reality” of the situation is grim. But, like a figure-ground image, what we first see isn’t all there is. Viewed with human eyes, the challenges facing the planet look insurmountable. The eyes of faith, however, see a different picture; they see more.

Negative space zebra

To be sure, eyes of faith see a picture of lament as the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away—all because of human sin (Hosea 4). The eyes of faith are neither rose tinted nor blind. God gave us the faculties to look, to study, to discern and, at times such as these, to cry. Refusal to do so is not faith, but folly. Ignoring or denying the situations (whether climate change, mass species extinction, environmental injustice or twisted theological justifications to pillage the planet) does not make them go away.

Yet lament does not complete the picture. Rather, the eyes of faith also see rejoicing in the knowledge that the sea will resound, and everything in it; the rivers will clap their hands; and the mountains will sing together for joy (Psalm 98). They see a picture in which all will finally and ultimately be on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Finally, the eyes of faith see ourselves in the picture. We were created to tend and keep, to love and care for all that God created. Doing so is both a charge and a blessing. It is also a witness.

So I invite you to join me in resolving to look through the eyes of faith, to keep our eyes on Jesus. And as we do, may we all have (if you’ll forgive the easy and cheesy pun): a Hopey New Year!

(Image based on Zebra, by Nevit)

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Categories: Reflections
About Tom Rowley

Tom Rowley has been involved with A Rocha USA from its beginnings in 2000 − first as a board member, now as executive director. Prior to coming on staff with A Rocha, Tom had a varied career including stints as a columnist and freelance writer, fellow with the Rural Policy Research Institute, project manager for the TVA Rural Studies Program at the University of Kentucky, editor at Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy, and acting deputy director and social science analyst with the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tom, Maria and their sons Jake and Michael currently live in central Oregon where they revel in learning about and playing in the forests, mountains, rivers and deserts of the region.

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