Fort McCoy News Dec. 11, 2015

Faith: What happened to last year's resolution?

Garrison Chaplain, Fort McCoy

The end of the year reminds me of my parents asking us to make New Year resolutions.

They raised 11 children without complaining as I complain now. I remember the Christmas gifts and the love that went into them in spite of our shortcomings.

I was a very active kid; boys of my age would gather and head out to unplanned destinations without fear. We roamed around freely in the woods when and where we wanted. I can recall going to the field at the village square, which was nothing but patches of sod and wild grass, to play soccer all afternoon.


What about our race to swim in the village lake? That dark but sparkling lake with staggered mangrove trees on both sides of the road held such heavenly beauty for my young mind.

The dusty road filled with potholes just a little less than 4 miles from my house was my highway. Oh, how we avoided these unpaved roads leading in and out of the village to make sure adults did not stop our movement. The boys of my age mostly traveled through bush paths hunting for whatever flied or crawled.

The buzzing of the bees and the chirping of crickets announced our presence to other insects and animals.
I remember one beautiful evening, while a gentle breeze passed and the leaves waved at us as we walked through the bush path, there suddenly appeared a horde of grasshoppers. Grasshoppers and squirrels were my favorite prey. I loved to watch the grasshoppers drip oil in the open fire. And like a lion waiting for its prey, I dove on the open grass and stopped an onward flight of an unfortunate grasshopper.

We made fire with flint stones and roasted them. We ate them. They were delicious free gifts from nature because in the beginning when God created you and I, "God blessed them (us), and God said to them (us), 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"

God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." (Genesis 1:28- 30)

What was God's catch-22 in giving us such a royal right in His kingdom? If you worked for a boss in your workplace, in school, or even your significant others in your homes and they were to give you such a right, what will they be asking for? They will see to it that you are aware in every waking moment that your life depended on their gratuity. They will remind you of their benevolence at every turn. But the only thing God ever asked of you is to love him and others which is the reason for this season. How simple can that request be? This realization creates a new beginning.

"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39)

In those days, we lived like children, free, innocent with a heart full of gratitude, which is what God actually wants for loving us and sending his son to be like us. "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

I remember the countless times we tried to pursue the grasshoppers and the many times we ended up lost in the woods. The pursuits of these animals often led us deeper into the bushes. One faithful day, there were shades of darkness everywhere. The dark clouds were approaching, and the sky appeared gloomy. The heavens seemed to have conspired against us. There were no signs of our prey. We did not catch anything. It was a sad day.

We lost our bearing. We found ourselves lost in the mangroves before we knew it. It took several trials for us to navigate our way back to the place where we left our water buckets and soccer balls. It suddenly dawned on us that we had spent several hours pursuing elusive squirrels. We lost track of time.

At the end of the year and the beginning of another, many of us realize to our own shock that we have been running a good race but outside the track. We feel depressed because for the first time it occurs to us that time flies. We have left unaccomplished all that we planned to do because we spent our time chasing fleeing shadows all year long. We pursued all the things at the periphery of life forgetting the last year's "New Year's resolution," and now we feel like a failure.

The older I get, the clearer I realize that in pursuit of the goodies of life, what we did back then is often the true picture of the life many of us are living now.

Many people are so caught up with chasing what the Bible calls a "fleeing wind." Are you one of them? We continuously are trying to fulfill the present while tirelessly pursuing things that we eventually will leave for others to enjoy. God has a purpose for which He created you. This cannot be realized without the tenets of His presence, His power, and His plan. These tenets are the lasting foundation.

Like the Bible said, there are only three things that last, "faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13). The foundation of any new resolution if it is going to last must be built on the blocks of these three pillars.

Now, is your New Year's resolution going to be built on the foundation that lasts? On the rugged faith that believes firmly in a God who has got your future in the palms of His hands, on that hope which knows even beforehand that those you have hurt will forgive you and you would in turn forgive those who hurt you and on that love which resolves and repairs all broken relationships?

For information about religious services, call the Religious Support Office at 608-388-3528 or visit building 2675.