The same God who brought you the good old days will bring you the good new days.”
I read this bit of wisdom in a book by John Claypool when I was a teenager, and I’m still quoting it to myself today. The New Year is beginning, and although I feel a twinge of excitement about stepping into the unknown, I’m also a little scared.
December felt cozy, happily cluttered, and safe. Wrapping up these familiar Christmas decorations, these items that remind me of the sweetness of the past and the closeness of family, leaves me feeling bare and vulnerable to the cold of January. I feel like Lucy in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe— stepping out of the sheltering wardrobe, where the softness and warmth of coats have been round about, into the contrasting cold of the snowy wood.
I have to remind myself that in the newness of 2014, “Aslan [Jesus] is on the move.” As I move into the blank, white future, He is with me.
Oh, why do I worry? Partly, I think, it is because of crumpled elephant’s ears. There were times in 2013 when I was like this heap of melted leaves.
This children’s book world is not free from pain. But, like the pages of picture books and children’s novels illustrate, we are never without hope.
There are children’s books about moving away from everything familiar. There are picture books about the pain caused by loss of health, by the death of a loved one, by racism, by divorce, by war. . . . Children’s books don’t shy away from reality, but they never stop at the pain. They see past the darkness, showing us the beckoning light of hope ahead.
A Child’s Garden by Michael Foreman shows us that flowers still grow in times of war. It is subtitled A Story of Hope.
Old Pig by Margaret Wild deals with the death of a family member with so much love and beauty that each time I read it, I’m smiling through my sobs.
Consider the endings of Charlotte’s Web and Little House on the Prairie. Think of Sarah, Plain and Tall, The Other Side, The Quilt Story, The Giving Tree. One of the reasons I have a passion for children’s literature is that it illustrates a Christian worldview. Children’s books don’t often mention Him, but they glow with the truth of Jesus. We are not children of darkness. He is here with us, everlasting loving arms for us to rest in, pure light for us to bask in.
I don’t mean to insinuate that I’m expecting sadness in the New Year. Quite the contrary. I’m expecting joy! I’m certain there will be blessings to be thankful for every day. God’s goodness is raining down. But, sometimes the rain is sprinkled with tears. It is the possibility of teardrops that can be crippling when you are looking over the threshold of a wardrobe.
I simply must remember that when I was that pile of mush last year, God picked me up and carried me into a season of growth and joy once more. And, come spring, those hibernating elephant’s ears in my garden will hear God’s life-giving whisper and will push bright green shoots toward heaven.
Jesus, you’re holding my hand. Let’s step into the sparkling white snow of 2014 together.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10