I love New Years. Not the staying up until midnight watching the ball drop stuff (although I have enjoyed my share of that in the past) – but the idea of reflecting on the ups and downs of the past year and then putting it behind me for a fresh start. It has amazed me in my adult life to see how God distinctly seems to work with me on calendar years and He is often faithful to give me a foreshadowing sense of what is coming for me or what the year is going to be about. I’ve had years that began with a sense of foreboding that was then followed by one difficulty after another. Other years He’s given me a sense of the “season” or growth journey He would take me on that year. This year, as I sat on the beach yesterday morning, I was overwhelmed with the sense of being at the end of a very long journey, with a total “blank slate” before me. I marveled at the fact that I get to do something that many people never do – have a totally fresh start. I am in a new country, with new friends and nobody knows me as anything other than the person I am right now. All the good and bad of my past has been wiped clean. All the places that contained painful parts of my past are far away. With tears, I gave God thanks for this incredible opportunity and I prayed that this time I would “get it right”.
As I walked back toward the house from the beach, I noticed Bill & Elaine on their balcony engaged in some type of activity. As I approached, I saw another sweet face looking down at me from above. I quickly learned that on their morning walk, Bill & Elaine encountered a sweet little stray pup, who came out of nowhere and despite the fact that they gave him no encouragement, latched onto them and followed them all the way home, all the while running ahead and looking back at them with direct eye contact. One of the sad things about this part of Ecuador to all of us who are animal lovers is the large number of stray dogs, but most just hang around public areas begging for food – they are not inclined to follow you the way this little puppy did. Bill & Elaine told me that despite the fact that their current plans do not have room for a dog, they believed this was a sign that they needed to heed – they determined to take this little guy in and do what they could for him. So as I arrived, he was getting his first bath! He is obviously a long neglected stray – very hungry and thin and full of fleas and mange. But with the TLC he has received in the last 24 hours, he has already shown amazing improvement! They plan to take him to the vet tomorrow and get him thoroughly checked out and treated for whatever is needed. And then, although they will return to Canada for six months in April, they are just taking it one day at a time and trusting that if they are supposed to keep him, the path will become clear of how that will be possible.
After the initial flurry of activity surrounding our new friend died down, I looked at him snuggled in Bill’s arms and began to marvel at the fact that he too now had a totally new life and clean slate. The traumas and wounds of the past are behind him and he now has the three basic things that both animals and humans crave – safety, provision and love. It has been amazing to watch him adjust to and embrace his new reality – to watch him sleep deeply and comfortably like he has probably never been able to do in his short life up until this point. I realized that on this New Year’s Eve, this little puppy and I shared something very profound – a totally fresh start!
This year, I do not have a sense from God of what the year will hold – I just know that I look forward to it with more hope and joy than I can remember ever looking forward to any previous year in my life. It is truly a blank slate to be written on and although I have absolutely no idea what it will hold – I know Who does and I trust Him with all my heart!