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Of Worship, Joni Mitchell, and Time: Pondering How to Face the New Year as a Christ-follower.

My 20-something daughter discovered the distinctive voice and writing of legendary Canadian folk artist Joni Mitchell recently. I had talked to her about a song I remembered from my childhood, about a young boy who grows up without seeing all of his dreams fulfilled (The Circle Game). I always found the song had a lot of pathos. Even as a youngster, the song filled my heart with strong emotions of loss and sadness.

I shared the song with her earlier in the year when I re-discovered it online, and the song brought back similar emotions. I can be really nostalgic, I guess, but it brought me back to my lost love of that song.

But here in the twilight of the New Year's celebrations, she had the song playing in our house on a playlist. I started singing along, only to choke up like many times before at the sadness of the young lad in the song. But I checked myself in the aftermath. Why would I tear up?

Well, I do feel bad for that young lad. Yes, it's sad if dreams don't come true. But isn't that life for most of us? We tend to tell our young ones that they can accomplish anything they can dream up if they just work hard enough. I think Joni Mitchell has more insight than we know. I think she paints a picture of most of us in that song.

But here's why I need to check myself as a worshiper of Christ. The New Year celebrations are a time to reflect, but also to look ahead. Time can be a tyrant, driving us moment by moment to the terrifying conclusion of our lives, and perish the thought we don't check off our entire bucket list!! But think about those who's memory history remembers fondly. It's not those who have ticked all of their boxes. It's always those who gave of themselves sacrificially. Like Christ did. Psalm 139:16 tells us that God is the author of all time, and has numbered our very days. Moreover, he chose us before time even began to be his workmanship, created for Good works in Christ, (Ephesians 2:10). So that means that if we align our dreams with the purposes of God that he created us for, then there is no need for sadness. Just a realignment of our dreams.

The word used for worship in Romans 12:1 is a Greek word (latreia) that represents a life laid down for God's Kingdom and its purposes. Maybe my childhood dreams "have lost some grandeur coming true"*, as Joni wrote, but I will walk into this new year with a heart of trust that what we will walk through, good or bad, was by God's good design. So, here's to swapping my sadness for his sovereignty. I think it's a pretty good exchange!

Happy New Year!

* - The Circle Game, Joni Mitchell, © 1967 Crazy Crow Music.

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