I’m never as aware of the swift passage of time as I am on January first each year.
The 2015 calendar lies discarded in the trash, a reminder that the old year has irretrievably passed. A pristine 2016 calendar hangs by my desk, inviting me to welcome the full potential of the new year. And I wonder, not just about what the new year holds, but how fast it will pass.
Ministry goals, plans, strategies, and schedules are all so time-driven. Accomplish one goal, move on to the next. Stay current. Stay relevant. Keep up with the latest cultural changes, the newest needs of those in our ministries. And do it before the calendar turns another page, bringing a new month, a new season, and a new round of ministry demands.
Perhaps that’s why God’s name, El Olam, the Everlasting God, can be especially meaningful at this time of year.
So as we enter this new year, here are five things to remember about El Olam:
- He is the creator of time, yet is outside of time.
We measure our days by the earth’s rotation around the sun, but God is the One who hung the sun in its place and set the earth on its rotation. Days, nights, months, and years are all a measure of what He created. So as the ministry calendar progresses, let’s purpose now not to obsess over the passage of time, but rather trust the One who created it.
- He is sovereign.
He knows the beginning from the end—nothing is a surprise to Him. That includes the most recent international calamity and the latest church strategy that didn’t work out the way you hoped. His name is a reminder that His priorities focus on the realm of the eternal, long after programs and strategies have been forgotten.
- He is immutable.
The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. The Lord of Adam and Eve is the same Lord over you and me in 2016. We can trust Him because He never changes. He is faithfully consistent in His precepts and in His rewards for those who obey Him. So as we prepare and strategize for this new year, let’s remember to honor His precepts in all our plans.
- His priority is people.
Programs will end. Goals will be forgotten. Current approaches will yield to new strategies. But people? Every human being will experience eternity—whether everlasting life or eternal condemnation. So the point of every goal, program, and strategy must be people. More specifically, the point is life-change. Because life—eternal life—comes only from El Olam, the eternal God.
- His timing is perfect.
Someone once said, “trust in God includes trust in His timing.” As this year unfolds, things are bound to go wrong. People and plans will fail to meet our timetables. The urge to control these glitches will seem overwhelming. The antidote to frustration over timing failures is to live out what we claim to believe: that God is in control and His timing is perfect. Doing so proves to those in our ministry—and those outside our ministry—that we really do trust Him in good times and bad.
This new year is full of potential, but that potential is not under our control. The good news, however, is that it is under the control of El Olam, the One who exists outside of time, yet whose timing is always perfect.
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Ava Pennington is the author of Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur. In addition to writing, she teaches a Bible Study Fellowship class.