Maybe This Will Be Your Year . . . to Die

By Joe Holland    |    January 1, 2024

Topic:    

I dip into CH Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening from time to time. But none of his brief devotions have affected me more than what he wrote for the morning of the first day of the year. So, I thought it would be appropriate to publish it here on January 1.

Spurgeon wrote (emphasis added):

“They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.”

—Joshua 5:12

Israel’s weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wildernesses: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is a cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be “for ever with the Lord.”

A part of the host will this year tarry on earth, to do service for their Lord. If this should fall to our lot, there is no reason why the New Year’s text should not still be true. “We who have believed do enter into rest.” The Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance; he gives us “glory begun below.” In heaven they are secure, and so are we preserve in Christ Jesus; there they triumph over their enemies, and we have victories too. Celestial spirits enjoy communion with their Lord, and this is not denied to us; they rest in his love, and we have perfect peace in him: they hymn his praise, and it is our privilege to bless him too. We will this year gather celestial fruits on earthly ground, where faith and hope have made the desert like the garden of the Lord. Man did eat angels’ food of old, and why not now? O for grace to feed on Jesus, and so to eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan this year!

When we approach a new year, we typically think about all that we’d like to accomplish. We look forward to milestones, anniversaries, graduations, and vacations. We know that we will endure unexpected suffering and that God’s grace will be enough. But Spurgeon says something different. The greatest longing and joy for the Christian is to be home with our Lord. This is no death wish, as it is commonly understood by most. This is the realization that this world is not our home. It is also the realization that, as we look out over our congregation, some of us won’t be here on January 1, 2025. Some of us will have died and gone on to be with Christ in glory. So, as you begin this year, long for years of diligent labor (Eph. 2:10) and to see your children’s children (Psalm 128:6). But more than that, long for when your toil will be over, and you will finally be home with your Lord where sin and death will be no more (Phil. 1:21).

“Perhaps this year, beloved Christian.”

Joe Holland

Joe Holland is professor of Christian ministry and academic dean for Grimké College. He also serves as managing editor for Grimké Seminary and College.

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