Looking either way – the good, the bad, and the ugly

By the time you read this we will have already stepped into a new year; in fact, a new decade.

And as seems inevitable when this time rolls around, we will each inventory our life over the past year and make plans for improvement in the new year. Will those plans for the future materialize? As always, that remains to be proven over the next 365 days.

But first, let’s look back at 2019. Now, I’m suggesting this year in review to be personal for each of us – not what has transpired on a national level or at any political level, not even what has occurred locally, where we think we are well versed, and not in the life of your church, either. That leaves just family but that is too broad a subject too, so each must evaluate what has taken place in his or her very own life.

This is not an easy task, because on any given day each of us tends to exhibit traits that fall into each category – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Well, maybe I have a tendency to judge each of you according to the way my own life plays out. Just about the time I look at something I did, said or thought and think it was “good,” I find all three of those exhibited.

Well, that’s not necessarily true either, because sometimes I skip right over “the good” part! Even though we are not required to air our “bad and ugly” sides, they become pretty evident if we really examine our lives. Whether we carefully and in detail examine our lives or not, that side is evident to those with whom we have contact.

When I really look at my life, I realize others may not be seeing the good side of me. Oh, if I do that or say (or even think) that in private, it doesn’t really matter, does it? I think our whole countenance changes into “the bad and the ugly” even when we think we have contained our demeanor pretty well.

I watched this phenomenon at work in my own dad. He could be so angry with any one of us that even speaking was an effort, let alone asking that speaking be done civilly! Yet, if any one or more of his grandchildren appeared, he could lay aside that whole picture for their sakes. Unfortunately, the change didn’t last when they went home. That complete change required time. He didn’t strike out in any way, not even verbally, but his silence was forbidding.

Now, having said all that, how do I perceive the new year?

I can only hope “the good” prevails and becomes the strong point by which I am known.

Oh, I know in advance I will fail in that effort, but I also know where to go for forgiveness, and even forgetfulness, of my failure – to the very foot of the cross, where I can find strength to live each day more exemplary than the day before.

Jesus knew before I was born that I would have these bad and ugly days. He shed His blood on Calvary to provide salvation from my many, many failures. At the foot of His cross, I need only ask and He not only forgives my sins but removes them from me “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12) What He does for me is available to you as well.

Yes, in the year we are entering, there will be more of the same – the good, the bad and the ugly – but we are not condemned for that. Jesus knows our humanness. He forgives, removes the sins and then casts them into the sea of His forgetfulness.