"Fox and Goose" is a great game to play. You begin with one medium-to-large size yard. Add two or more children. Oops! I almost forgot -- add sufficient snow to cover the yard and enable the children to make paths or trails clearly defined.
After making at least two concentric circles in the snow along with the center point for those circles, connect the circles and center with four "spokes" (paths in the snow) to the inner circle. Then, midway between the four spokes, connect the two circles with each other by making short connecting paths.
Now the real fun begins! The "fox" must chase the "geese," and neither of them may step anywhere except in the paths marked out in the snow.
After a bit, the precision and clarity of the paths and circles becomes worn and sloppy. Someone steps into the snow rather than staying on a path. Someone else falls in between the circles and decides to make an impromptu snow angel.
Then a snowball fight begins. Soon the circles and paths are pretty well messed up and the game loses its luster.
How like Fox and Geese so many of our annual beginnings appear. New Year's Day presents us with a clean, unmarked year with all its possibilities and opportunities.
The new calendar offers us another opportunity for a fresh start. The failures, disappointments and frustrations of the past 12 months (or more) begin to dim as we view with fresh anticipation the coming year. Those victories we had in 2001 encourage us with the possibility of more and greater ones this year.
On a day like today (when I am writing this), it is difficult to know precisely which direction to walk. With no compass or guide, how will we know if we are going in the right direction or, for that matter, continuing in the proper one?
For some of us, a compass might be a confusing instrument to use. But a guide! Yes, a guide is someone whom we all may follow with confidence -- assuming the person knows the way.
The Bible tells us "there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." My personal ideas of the way to go this year, therefore, seem good to me, but they will mislead me.
On the other hand, Jesus said: "I am the way " and "Follow me." He is the only true guide for each of us.
Let's set our direction by his compass, our goal by his standard of values. Let's allow him to clean up the mess of our failures and misplaced priorities from 2001 and give us a fresh, new beginning for our good and his honor.
The parable of the prodigal son reminds us that the place of greatest satisfaction and true profit is that in which we are in right relation with God. It's a matter of relationship more than geography. So, rather than trying desperately to achieve our personal goals (so frequently with disastrous results) in the place and by the means we deem best, let's follow the Biblical admonition to "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."
2002 doesn't need to be a Fox-and-Geese-type year. It can be one with special focus, purpose and richness as you and I walk through it with our guide.
Charles G. Thornton is the associate pastor of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Sunday worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Bible classes are at 9:45 a.m. For more information, call 262-6442.
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