The new year has been rung in! Our fresh start has begun! This time of year is always so exciting with all of the new chances and opportunities it brings.
I was making a Shutterfly calendar the other day, and as I got from month to month, I started realizing that this is one of the most uncharted years I have had in a long time. I am student teaching through April, graduating in May, and then who knows? Our future is totally in God’s hands (as it always is) and He could direct us anywhere from staying here in Tucson to flying to Fiji (which, by the way, is as far as you can go before you start coming back). It’s strange to be in this place of not being able to plan, of watching the next steps rise up in front of us one at a time. I usually like seeing the big picture, but this is so different and so exciting, that I kind of like this too, for a change.
So in light of this new year and all of the unexpected happenings it will bring, here are some things that I want to remember as I make my resolutions.
1.We might not make it to the end of 2016.
Bam. Hitting with the hard stuff right out of the gate. Doesn’t it sound depressing? In some ways, it could be, but on the other hand, it could mean the most wonderful moment any of us has ever experienced.
The Bible says:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” -1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Jesus is returning for us! While we are here in this world that is so ruined and dangerous and hurting, the world in which even the beauty is just a shadow of what it could have been without sin, we can know that Jesus is returning to bring us to live with Him forever.
When I think of that in the context of the New Year, suddenly some of my worries don’t seem as significant. Suddenly, I feel challenged to do something for Christ in the new year, instead of just something for me. It lends perspective that reminds me that I can trust God with my future because He will keep me safe, and in the end I will be with Him forever, no matter what.
Matthew 24:36 says,“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Jesus could be coming back tonight, tomorrow, a hundred years from now, or thirty seconds from now. Let’s make every moment count!
2. We need spiritual resolutions too.
Honest moment here: I very rarely make my resolutions until January is almost over, if ever. I make miniature resolutions throughout the year, but they aren’t always at the beginning of the year, even though I LOVE that idea.
So, as I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions, I am also prayerfully asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Because this year is so up in the air, I tend to be making plans for my many projects, for where I’m going to live, for how I need to be more organized, etc. They are all so practical. In a year in which a lot of changes are going to happen, I am just focused on making it through those changes, but resolutions are a chance to prayerfully ask God to help us change our hearts.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
God allows craziness and trials in our lives to help us grow. We need to be asking God what He sees as opportunities to learn in the coming year and we need to ask right now for help in seeing what heart resolutions we need to be making.
3. Our future is always in God’s hands.
Even with every time that Benjamin and I have to say, “Ummm…” or “We have no idea…” in an awkward response to questions about our future plans, God knows exactly what the future holds.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.”
And Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
Together, those two truths should help us fight any worry or any wonderings about the future so that we can leave them in God’s capable hands.
No one ever said that following God would be easy, but it is always an adventure!
As you think about the coming year, try asking yourself these questions:
- Are my plans focused on an eternal perspective? Am I more focused on the here and now or on following the call of God in my life, even when it’s hard? What are my priorities?
- Am I looking for what God wants to teach me or how He wants me to change this year?
- Am I really trusting God with my future plans, working when He asks me to work, planning when I need to plan, but ultimately leaving every day in His hands?