Auld Lang Syne

Alister Begg is one of my favourite speakers. His Scottish accent gives his words a lilt and he is a master of the English language. As we have just entered the new year, he gives this insight into looking forward and reflecting on the past. I simply share it with you for your encouragement.

I have written previously about the way in which the “turn of the year” evokes strong memories of my previous life in Scotland. Why this should be true of this time of year more than any other is hard to say. Perhaps it is because of the song sung around the world, “Auld Lang Syne.” It begins with a rhetorical question: Should old relationships be forgotten?

The answer is clearly no. The traditional way of singing this well-known song takes place in a circle holding hands. At the beginning of the final verse, everyone crosses their arms across their breast so that the right hand reaches out to their neighbor on the left and vice versa. This was demonstrated by Queen Elizabeth II at the Millennium Dome celebration in 2000.“

Auld Lang Syne” is sung often in parting, and I have vivid memories of bidding farewell to family members as they left Scotland never to be seen again this side of eternity. So I suppose it is mainly cultural but experienced within the framework of a biblical worldview. James describes our life as being like a morning mist appearing for a little and then vanishing. The psalmist encourages us by the reminder that our times are in God’s hands and teaches us to number our days so that we might incline our hearts to wisdom.

Those of us who are of a melancholic disposition need to guard against nostalgia, while others may be helped by pondering past benefits.I am encouraged in this regard by what Paul tells us about his approach: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He is clearly not forgetting God’s mercies and kindness to him in the past. We may be tempted to erect monuments to past successes or to dwell unhelpfully on earlier failures. But surely, as Christians, we live in the present, learning from the past and looking to the future.

How this works itself out in our individual lives and in our families and church fellowships is what our history will recount. Truth For Life is in its present position because of God’s faithfulness, expressed in large measure through your partnership, and in humble dependence upon Him, we look to the future.

Thanks for allowing me a brief nostalgic reflection. A happy and blessed New Year from our entire team.

With my love in the Lord Jesus, For Auld Lang Syne,

Alistair Begg

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