Coram Deo: New Year Thoughts

For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about what the Lord would have me focus on this new year. There is something very arbitrary about January 1, as though this day is somehow more important or chronologically significant than any other day. However, it must be stated that in God’s creative providence, life does come with its seasons and cycles within His divine orchestration. Weeks, seasons, and years come with the beginnings and endings, and within each series of moments is the promise and hope of experiencing life with greater joy and fulfillment.

New Year’s resolutions have come to retain nothing more than superficial expectations or comedic value as we come to look in retrospect all the things we say said we would do. Therefore, the “happiness” of the new year is often eclipsed by the long shadow of the pervading pessimism. Together, the lofty goals of weak resolutions coupled with a self-defeating pessimism serve to bring a bleak outlook both on the new year and the idea of resolutions altogether.

In spite of all this, we cannot write off making resolutions in some fatalistic sense. Because I am in the Edwardsean tradition, I often harken back to his 70 resolutions. Actually, in 2000, I began writing some of my own resolutions though the list is far from completion. But beyond Edwards, we find David and other biblical authors write with firmness and fortitude in their expressions of resoluteness, and many of them Psalms are laced with personal affirmations (such as “I will _______”, occuring some 138 times).

On the other hand, one could bring James 4:13-15 to the table, which says

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'”

Moreover, we could think of the resolution of Peter and the rest of the apostles when it was said, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same (Matt. 26:35). Be that as it may, I believe Christians should make resolutions, aided by God’s empowering Spirit, and accomplished by divine enabling grace.

So this year, my New Year’s resolution is summed up in the Latin phrase “coram deo.” Literally, it means “before the face of God.” In the upcoming days, I want to unpack this phrase and share some of my meditations on what I believe it means to live “coram deo.” In our cultural mileau, our world can be defined as living with their backs toward God. They cannot look at God because the “god of this world” has blinded them. As people of the night, they cannot bear to see the light, lest their deeds and sin be exposed. Their pursuit is for their own pleasure, and their affections and direction in life revealing the antithesis of “coram deo,” namely “coram ipse”–before the face of myself.

In my next post, I will explain what I believe it means to live before the face of God, and I will conclude by sharing the consequences of living “coram deo.” With that before me, I pray each day that this year I be more exposed to the weight of God’s glory, that God would reveal more of Himself to me, and that I would dwell continually before Him, beholding the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4).

Explore posts in the same categories: Personal Commentary

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