Happy New Year!
New Year is traditionally a time for making resolutions. Having absorbed just enough church management-speak to realise that it's a mixture of common sense and gobbledegook, I'm aiming to make my resolutions this year SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
The problem with SMART objectives is that they don't have to be particularly ambitious. I know that some people use the A for Ambitious or the R for Rewarding rather than having both the A and R mean much the same thing, but that's not how I've come across it.
For example, this year I resolve to kick fewer than two dogs into the path of oncoming traffic. That's a SMART resolution, but it's not especially a useful one. And that's part of the problem with management culture in public service organisations. Anyway, I digress.
I have decided to make it my practice every year to read through Psalm 90 slowly on New Years' Day. This year it's especially poignant, as the minister who kept emphasising to me the importance of "numbering my days aright" is dying.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn people back to dust,
saying, "Return to dust, you mortals."
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Relent, LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May the favour of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90, TNIV