Friday, December 29, 2006

Facing a New Year


When my daughter, Hannah, graduated from High school we wanted to do something special to celebrate. So, we flew to Northern California. We stayed with close friends, Gary and Chris Smith, who live on, own, and operate, a vineyard. We found no shortage of intriguing people and unique places.

One location stood out: Donner Memorial State Park. The Donner Party was a group of American families who got caught up in the “westering fever” of the 1840s. They heeded the call of California. Filled with the trepidation and excitement that attends the promise of a new beginning, 33 people departed Springfield, Illinois in mid-April, 1846, bound for Northern California. The shortcut at “Hastings Cutoff” seemed like a common sense option at the time. They never envisioned the nightmare of becoming snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountains and resorting to cannibalism.

Today, a monument marks the spot. The plaque on the monument reads, “Virile to risk and find; Kindly withal and a ready help. Facing the brunt of fate: Indomitable—unafraid.” This certainly gives us a sense of the western, pioneering spirit that we prize as Americans. But “Virile” when facing risk? “Indomitable” and “unafraid” when facing “fate”? Will we never learn?

Contrast this with the disposition of the Psalmist:

42:[5] Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.

[11] Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance, and my God.

43:[5] Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my countenance, and my God.


The Psalmist examines his hopes, “Why are you in despair, O my soul?” and preaches to himself, “Hope in God.” He stops listening to his heart and starts preaching to, and reminding, his heart.

Let us face the new year and “run with endurance the race that is set before us, [2] fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).


A rescue party is coming. Hope in God!

2 comments:

Alan Temple said...

Brad,

The area you are talking about is absolutely gorgeous! I was stationed in San Francisco for several years while I was in the Navy. Being a very rural kinda guy, San Francisco drove me absolutely crazy. One of the few things to keep me sane way out there on the left coast was the wine country and the mountains in northern California. I spent nearly every free weekend roaming northern California. Your story jogged some memories I hadn't thought of in years. Thanks! Maybe I'll take my kids out there for vacation some year. My oldest was born there but we left when he was a baby. Happy New Year!

Bradford Mercer said...

Thanks so much Alan. The wine country is beautiful and unique. Same to you!