Life’s Lessons


The good, the bad, and the ugly – past and future

With Christmas past, the celebration of the old and new years lies on our doorstep.

I think it most difficult to end the year without mentally taking inventory of the past year. It had its high spots, low spots, and spots so difficult we don’t want to revisit them. That’s the way time plays out.

All three of those aspects may be seen in one event – the death of a loved one. When that loved one is a known Christian, we can rejoice even in their death, as with my cousin lost to us very recently. But even with that knowledge, and the accompanying joy of knowing where that person is, there is unavoidable sorrow.

The ugly? Remembrances and regrets for flaws in those relationships. Mistakes we made. Words hastily and carelessly voiced. Contacts we failed to make.

I try to stay constantly alert for those happenings in life that appear to be in the “bad” list.

End of year 1985 found me languishing in unemployment – since May! I couldn’t even get a job at McDonald’s – not that our rural town had a McDonald’s, but I did apply in another town.

End of year 1986 – could it get worse? I was still without full-time work.

May 1987 – still no work. I had held things together with part-time employment and unemployment benefits. Those both ended at the end of the month.

As I looked back over those many months, I struggled to see the good, and even the bad. The ugly? It was evident everywhere! My whole life, my whole being had changed!

Years later, I look back at that time and can see that God had His royal hands on my life all the time, and He meant it for good! It took a long time, but now I can see the ugly was being changed to good through it all.

It was because of that episode that I sold my home and moved back to Ohio, ultimately finding employment at the regional jail which put me in the state retirement system. Today, I can see that what I perceived as “the ugly” was God’s hand at work in my life.

So, at the end of this year, I look back again and find changes but nothing so dramatic. I look to the future and wonder what it holds – just like you do at this time every year.

I face the unknowns of the future with confidence because I rest in my loving heavenly Father’s capable hands, and know He has a plan for me to give me hope and a future – for good, not for bad or ugly. (Jeremiah 29:11)

In my devotions this morning, my attention was brought to the apostle Paul’s writing in II Corinthians 13:11 which reminds us, “… Grow in Christ … Live in harmony and peace. And may the God of love and peace be with you.”

That is my prayer for you, my readers. This year, with its good, bad and ugly is past, and there is no better way to look to the year ahead than to place it all in our Father’s hands!

The good, the bad, and the ugly – past and future