This has been one of the most challenging autumn and winters I can remember for the farming community. Fields lay unsown and crops such as potatoes and sugar beet are still in the ground because it’s too wet to get on the land to lift them out. My husband’s frustrations have run high this year and he has resorted to methods he wouldn’t normally contemplate to ensure there is a crop in the ground to be harvested next summer. His usual goal of getting the sugar beet crop out of the ground before Christmas was miserably abandoned this year; when the harvester tried it sank up to its axles in the boggy ground.
The beck at the bottom of Great Park field has, at most, a trickle of water in it for much of the year. This winter has seen it, at times, full to the point of bursting its banks with fast flowing torrents. On one such afternoon after a morning of non-stop rain, I took our lively springer spaniel for a much looked-forward-to walk. I paused on the bridge over the beck and looked at the water flowing underneath. As I looked into the murky depths I noted that water only flows in one direction, a pretty obvious observation but one that struck me as I continued to watch the fast moving flow. As well as standing on the bridge over the beck I realised I was also standing at the dawn of a new year and a new decade.
As I gazed at the water, flowing only in one direction, it struck me that I needed to do likewise. How many of us bring last year’s frustrations, trials and pain into this year. Maybe we’ve accumulated years of distress and anguish. Maybe we’ve dealt with the agony and frustrations of past years by shutting down our feelings or seeking relief in less than healthy pursuits. Maybe we’ve allowed our past circumstances to make us angry, bitter, resentful people. Maybe we’ve made mistakes that consume us with guilt. We can’t change our circumstances or what has happened to us in the past but we can choose our responses. We can choose to cling on to the past or we can choose to be like the flowing water under the bridge and move onwards leaving the past behind. It won’t be easy, at times it will take all the energy and effort we can muster and there will be times when we become snagged up with our emotions which emanate from past feelings about our circumstances. At these times we can feel held back, slowed down, like water when it encounters obstacles in the stream. But water never flows backwards, it pushes on until it finds a way past the debris and surges onwards again.
If we are walking with the Lord He doesn’t allow us to look back, He knows the past will overturn us;
“When they had brought them outside, one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away." Genesis 19:17
We know what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back. We must not allow the past to devour us. And if we take the Lord with us into this New Year He will give us the strength to persevere if we stay close to Him:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11