In a matter of days, another year will have faded into the history books, and each of us will have left behind a record of our comings and goings for the year - footprints, as it were, in the sands of life.
The ending of one year and the beginning of another is a great time for introspection, a time for reflection.As we look back through pages of our lives during this past year, what do we see? Are we happy with what we've done, or are there some regrets? Were our lives in conformity to the principles of the gospel, or were there some slips and falls along the way? And if there were, what did we do about it? Did we make them right? Were we kind and considerate of others, or were there missed opportunities to serve?
And what of the new year? What will 1998 bring?
Granted, none of us has a crystal ball that we can peer into and see the future, and many unexpected happenings occur during the course of a year that we have no control over that greatly impact our lives. But no matter what we will be faced with in the coming year, we can determine - in a very large and real sense - whether or not we will have happiness and peace.
Surely, in this coming year, we can resolve to more fully keep the commandments.
Fifty years ago, President George Albert Smith gave wise counsel for a new year. The advice is just as applicable today as it was in January 1948 when he gave it:
"During these troublous times when so many are in distress, seeking happiness and not finding it, the best recipe that I could give to obtain happiness would be: Keep the commandments of the Lord.
". . . Get the Spirit of God and keep it. And the only way we will keep it is by living near Him, by keeping His commandments. The only way to peace for this world is the pathway of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. There is no other." (Improvement Era 51:11,37.)
Surely, we can resolve to be more diligent in temple worship, more diligent in keeping the covenants made therein.
"When you attend the temple," said President Ezra Taft Benson, "and perform the ordinances that pertain to the house of the Lord, certain blessings will come to you: You will receive the spirit of Elijah, which will turn your heart to your spouse, to your childen, and to your forebears. You will love your family with a deeper love than you have loved before. You will be endowed with power from on high as the Lord has promised. You will receive the key of the knowledge of God. You will learn how you can be like Him. Even the power of godliness will be manifest to you. . . . Such are the blessings of the temple and the blessings of frequently attending the temple." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 254.)
We can become more spiritual, more diligent in studying the scriptures.
President Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview with the Church News in June 1995 said: ". . . Whether it be in matters of theology or day-to-day living as part of the society in which we live, the principles which are set forth in the scriptures become principles which can make for happiness and understanding, lofty ideals by which to guide our lives, and the faith by which to move through the problems which we will inevitably confront as we go forward with our lives."
On another occasion, President Hinckley said concerning studying the scriptures, "As you read of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will draw closer to Him who is the author of our salvation." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 573.)And, yes, we can resolve to be more kind, more caring, more helpful, more patient with our families and with each other. We can have more love for one another, without which we become "as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (See I Cor. 13:1.)
As we enter the new year, it would be well for us to read again the words of Mormon concerning charity, "the pure love of Christ" (Moro. 7:47), and then apply them to our lives:
"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
"Wherefore . . . if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all. . . ." (Moro. 7:45-46.)
Such is the way we can chart our course through the coming year, a course filled with obedience to the commandments of God, love of our fellowman, charity to all. Such is the way we can make 1998 a year of spiritual growth and enjoy happiness and peace in our lives when much about us is in turmoil. Such is the way we can draw close to our Heavenly Father and show to Him our love.