The great general had led his troops to a hard-fought but resounding triumph on the field of battle. With the enemy army now vanquished and scattered, he rallied his regiments to press on toward the capital where they would secure the final victory. And though the men marched briskly, he urged them to still greater speed. In their haste, they began to toss aside whatever was superfluous, whatever was redundant, whatever was unnecessary. Soon the road was littered with all that would burden them and slow their progress, for they knew that with their conquest would come honor, home, and rest.
We have left behind one year and entered into another. And with our cries of “happy new year,” with our cheers and hugs, each of us took one more step toward our final victory. We are one hour, one day, one month, one year closer to the end of our days, the end of our march. And the nearer we approach our destination, the more we long to arrive, the more we long to be in that place of triumph, that place of ease.
In the great march that is the Christian life, the passing of the years ought to be marked by what has been laid aside, by what has been taken off and tossed away. As we progress toward our destination, our pathway ought to be strewn with the sins, weights, transgressions, and burdens that slowed our steps, that thwarted our advance. Tossed in the ditch beside the roadway should be the fear of man that tempted us to honor man instead of God. Trodden underfoot should be the lust that tempted us to forsake purity in favor of adultery. Left in the dust should be the love of money that almost swayed our hearts to store up treasures on earth rather than in heaven.
In this way, as the years pass by, our steps become lighter rather than heavier, easier rather than harder. Though the way is narrow, though the way is sometimes rough, though the path forward is sometimes hard to discern, still our march grows more steady, our step more confident, for we have unburdened ourselves of so much of what would hinder us and impede our progress.
And so, as we consider the path that leads through 2022, as we consider the city that lies just beyond the distant horizon, may we resolve to make our step light in the year ahead, may we resolve to make our way as easy as possible, and not by cheating or by shortcuts, but by stripping ourselves of every sin, every weight, every hindrance. May we resolve to divest ourselves even of needless extravagances that might get in the way of our momentum. And may we tread our way with a heart that is free, a step that is light, and a heart that is set on what is true and lasting and eternal. May we walk and jog and run and sprint to our triumph, to our home, to our rest. May we do it all for the great joy that is set before us.