Intentions and plans

[January 2, 2015] For many years I have started the new year with very similar good intentions. But, unfortunately, they tend to be soon forgotten. These intentions do not differ much from those of millions of other Dutch people and are not very spectacular. I am not planning to trek through China or to take up fishing as a new hobby.

I realize that it would be good to do more physical exercise and lose a few pounds in  weight. I also am aware of that fact that I should invest more time in my social life and should place more emphasis on my spiritual ‘formation’.  (I still do not understand what is wrong with that word.) I might also make improvements with a few  less important matters. I could, for instance, decide to keep my desk in better order, so that I would waste less time in searching through piles of paper to recover some precious remarks that I had jotted down ‘somewhere’.  I could also determine that I would (or: let others) clean my car more often, or to make it a habit to first read the instruction booklet when I buy a new piece of equipment. It might also be a good idea to force myself to study the book that I bought in which all the features of my i-phone are explained. However, I fear that in less than a week from now I will be stuck again in the routines of a new year and that everything will soon return to ‘normal’.

In fact, I actually hope that the new years will not differ much from recent years. As you grow older, you know that all things will not always simply continue in the same way and with the same speed. Yet, I hope that this will be the case for some considerable time to come. As I hear about the challenging situation our country faces in providing quality care for all its senior citizens, I can only fervently hope that my wife and I will not yet have to knock on the doors of our local community in search for adequate care.

I also hope I can remain active in 2015 in a number of different areas, such as, preaching regularly and teaching seminars here and there. This year, in any case, begins with some preaching appointments, a presentation in Brussels about the history of Adventism and Women’s Ordination  and a seminar for pastors in the South of France.

In addition, I hope I will have cotinued inspiration for articles and books. On my most recent to-do list I notice an upcoming deadline for an article in Contact. In the meantime, work on my new devotional book progresses nicely. On New Year’s Eve I wrote four devotional messages, so that the total number of days for which I have now written a short meditation stands at 278. That means that in the coming months I must still produce a little less that one hundred pages. When that is done, the premilimary version of the book must be reviewed and refined until the final product is ready for publication.

Translating books also provides me with a lot of satisfaction. In the past twenty years I have been involved with eight translation projects—theological and historical books—for the Eerdmans Publishing Company in the US. Just days ago they requested me to take on another project. Since it concerns a rather substantial project we have agreed on a deadline in 2016.

However, most of my activities that are on the drawing board for 2015 (and that might yet be added as the year progresses) will concern the church that has always been at the core of my existence. As 2015 begins, I look at ‘my’ church with a mixture of hope and fear. I am hopeful because of the many good initiatives I see, especially in the Adventist Church in the Netherlands, but I am depressed because of the increasing polarization and move towards conservatism I see in much of ‘my’ (?) church worldwide. I can only hope that a major portion of the top leadership of the Adventist Church will be replaced during the world congress in July in San Antonio (US), and that the church will elect new leaders who will prioritize unity in diversity and tolerance.

At the beginning of a new year, it is important not to forget that all intentions and plans are conditional. It is all subject to the Lord’s will. Therefore it is important to go forward with small steps, as we give meaning to each new day and enjoy each day that is given to us. Nonetheless, in the background we cherish the hope that a great many days will yet follow.

A few days ago I happened to see a few minutes of a program on Dutch television. In one of the endless talk shows I saw an interview of a senior couple. The husband and his wife were, respectively, 101 and 100 years of age. They radiated a surprising vitality. I could not resist thinking: I hope they will want to interview my wife and myself some thirty years from now, when we will both have become centenarians.  (After all, maybe in 2015 I should  make a better use of my home trainer which has not been subject to much tear and wear in 2014.)