January has arrived carrying a new year. Resolutions accompany beginnings—with goals of being a better, lighter, more fit, and more generous person—maybe learning a foreign language? The past has ended, and the future begins this month.

But life isn’t really about endings and beginnings. Life is not a linear path where an ending ends, and then a beginning starts. Everything overlaps and intertwines.

I wonder if anything we engage in ever has an ending. Maybe nothing ends, and life is just an accumulation of beginnings that we carry with us our whole lives. Maybe every beginning cannot end, because all our experiences are all tied together and linked in such a way that their existence forms who we are. Maybe 2017 didn’t end….and 2018 isn’t a new beginning, but these are just 2 years linked together in a series of events.

Maybe New Year’s shouldn’t be a time of resolutions, but of reflections of our current state in the stream of time we live in. And what a stream it is. It is carrying us somewhere, but it doesn’t feel like floating down a lazy river to me. Feels like class 4+ rapids.

We’ve been in the stream of time our whole lives. And there have been tributaries feeding into our stream along the way. Tributaries of experiences, people, situations, and community have all flowed into our stream—altering it and sometimes muddying it. Still, we float down the stream toward something we don’t know.

But the mystery of where we’re going doesn’t have to cause anxiety. I often find comfort in knowing that so many people before me have lived through amazingly tough times—and survived and thrived. Knowing that many others have floated down different rivers (and survived) brings me comfort that we will also survive the stream of time we are now in. When I worry too much about where we’re heading and what surprises are around the next bend—I forget to enjoy the journey.

On a recent retreat, I met a seasoned outdoorsman who had some rules for river running. They were given him by his mentor, and she told him that the river running rules are:

  • Show up
  • Get in the boat
  • Follow the leader’s directions
  • Row when called upon
  • Don’t fall out

Sounds like good rules to me—for river running and for life. …………… shared ministry……….Russ