Here we are already—the last day of 2016. So much has happened in the past 366 days (remember, it was a leap year). Some of my personal goals were accomplished, some were not. People known and unknown to me at the beginning of the year touched my life in ways I would not have imagined, and I hope I’ve touched a life or two. And I’ve experienced both joy and sorrow beyond measure.
I’ve tried to live as a follower of Christ in 2016, but many times I’ve stumbled and fallen. By God’s grace I’ve gotten back up and kept moving forward. And forward is the only direction any of us can go. If we stop, we drop (dead, that is), and we certainly can’t go backward in time.
Often, I do wish I could go back in time. Go back and stop my tongue from saying something hurtful; go back and put words of grace and encouragement on my lips for someone who needed to hear them; go back and divert the course of my mind from making a poor decision; go back and waste less precious time, or simply use my time differently; go back and replace moments of self-centeredness and self-pity with prayer and good deeds for others; go back and appreciate more deeply the fleeting moments of joy and the serenity of beauty when they occur; go back even to the moments (and sometimes hours—or days) of pain, or sleeplessness, or anxiety, or disappointment, or sorrow and listen more closely for the voice of God in the midst of it—to be more aware of his presence, to depend more completely on his grace, to seek more diligently his mercy.
But I can’t go back. And I can’t stand still. I can only move forward. So tomorrow, God willing, I will move forward into a new year. There will be times of joy, beauty, and peace in 2017, and there will be times of pain, heartache, and sorrow. Yet, as the psalmist wrote, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” And as the poet Longfellow poignantly observed the life and work of the local village blacksmith, he concluded with these words:
Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing, / Onward through life he goes; / Each morning sees some task begin, / Each evening sees it close; / Something attempted, something done, / Has earned a night’s repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, / For the lesson thou hast taught! / Thus at the flaming forge of life / Our fortunes must be wrought; / Thus on its sounding anvil shaped / Each burning deed and thought.
Thank you for reading my blog thoughts—usually on topics of English usage and grammar—in this past year. May God bless us, every one, as we move forward into 2017. Δ
 Psalm 23:4 KJV.
 These are the final two verses of H. W. Longfellow’s “Village Blacksmith,” one of my all-time favorites, published in 1840.
© Copyright 2016 by Dean Christensen. All rights reserved.