A New Year in God’s Providence

A New Year in God’s Providence

What will God in his goodness and wisdom and grace and power do with us in the new year? Watching for this is far more to God’s glory and to the enjoyment of God than the quest to get done what I want to get done.

In her rich fantasy novel, Piranesi, author Susanna Clarke has the main character, whose name is also the book’s title, keep a journal for each year he has been living in the Beautiful and Kind House.

As described on the back cover, the rooms of the House “are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls lined with thousands upon thousands of statues.” It is a place of stunning beauty and deep intrigue.

As extraordinary as the House is, the passing of time there is quite ordinary. Time, in fact, becomes a major feature of the story, especially as the whole book is a series of revealing journal entries.

Fully aware of time’s passage, Piranesi records the number of each day and the number of each month whenever he makes an entry. His dating technique, however, is not what you would expect: he has stopped counting the years by numbers.

At almost every entry, Piranesi records the year as “the year the albatross came to the south-western halls.” He observes time by its remarkable providences not by mere counting. It is a clever move by Clarke which lends helpful strategy to followers of Christ as we enter a new year ourselves.

If we applied Piranesi’s method, one wonders how much more restful and joyful the year ahead would be. What if we watched and waited for the providences of God to unfold far more than we brooded over our own accomplishments? What if we are blind to the albatross flying through the House because we are always hunched over our resolutions?

John Flavel (c. 1630-1691) liked to point to Asaph’s wisdom in Psalm 77:11-12 to drive home a similar point. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

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