Merry Christmas! Yes, it is still Christmas–until January 5th. How easy it is for us to forget the reason for the season and get back into routines. This year, I challenge you to resist! Take these 12 days and spend them with Jesus.
I challenge you to use this time to reflect on 2021 in a new way. Often we come to the end of the year and look at the past year with a critical eye, seeking to find the unmet goals and challenges we failed to meet. Don’t get me wrong, as Christians, we need to always be lifting our lives up to God and asking for guidance and direction in how we can be more Christlike. However, I know that I forget one step before undertaking the critical view. I forget to reflect on the blessings and sing praise and thanksgiving. When I forget this step, I miss how God may have spoken to me in the last year. I don’t recognize that sometimes the failed goals mean God might not be calling me in that direction. I don’t see the patterns of success that God has provided as a way to guide me on my next steps. I may not see that some of my failures aren’t because God doesn’t want me moving in that direction, but that my own sin and disobedience are in the way of successfully meeting that calling.
Let me give you an example. I have been working in an undergraduate leadership program for nearly a decade. During my time teaching the program, I have developed a values identification process that I lead the students through in their junior and senior years. After I finished my doctoral program, I felt God calling me to compile that process into a workbook for publication–that was nearly two years ago. What has happened? Has God called me away from that goal? I don’t believe so. When I look back, I can see how my own insecurities have helped me to justify saying yes to many things that were good, but that distracted me from the goal. The insecurities run the gambit…Will anyone want to read this book? How can I represent the Lord clearly and without heresy within the book? Who am I to write a book? I still struggle with grammar sometimes…The list goes on. So, instead of writing, I taught extra classes, I decided to take up sewing, I binged watch Downton Abbey… Because of my sin, I was disobedient to God’s call to write the workbook. Because of my failure to head his calling, I was able to grow in areas that will help me to make the workbook better reflect the light of Christ. During the last year, the Lord did provide success in learning to let go, to rest, and to understand his centrality in all of my life. Those successes provided preparation for me to be right here, right now.
As you look forward to the new year, keep these things in mind:
- Go to God in prayer, seeking a humble heart and an open spirit in accessing the past year.
- Reflect with thanksgiving on the past year. Take an honest look first at your blessings and seek God’s guidance in how those blessings may be guiding you in a Godly direction.
- Look back at your ‘failures’ or missed goals. Don’t dwell on them. Rather, ask if God was keeping you safe by not allowing you to achieve that goal. Look at any misguided ideas, sin, and disobedience that may have kept you from reaching that goal and how God might have or still be working on you to prepare you and make you ready to reach that goal.
- Humbly ask God to keep your focus on Him throughout the next year and to guide your goals.
We’d love to hear how your reflection goes!
Contributed by Liz Hunt