It is good to sit down and take stock every now and then, and New Year’s Day is as good a day as any. I was discussing with Lou Ann yesterday that in many westerns (what few of them I have read), the rancher has to occasionally ride the fences of his property to make sure all is well, strengthen weak places, repair breaches, etc, and that reminds me a bit of what we like to do as we approach the New Year. But we also look ahead to new ventures as well. Susan at By Grace shared a helpful post a few years ago about different areas for which homemakers can set goals.
I see both of these aspects in Scripture. Revelation 3:2 says, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” And one of my favorite verses for the New Year in Deuteronomy 11:11-12 says, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
Even in those areas where things seem to be going well, we can be encouraged to abound more and more and “excel still more,” as Paul encouraged Thessalonian believers: while commending their love for the brethren he encouraged them to increase in it.
I like the idea of goals rather than resolutions. There are times for Biblical resolutions, and I’m inspired by Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions, and this post about how to learn from them rather than be discouraged by them. But as Paul Tripp said here, it’s not usually the one dramatic resolution that makes a difference but rather the 10,000 mundane everyday decisions. A resolution can be the starting point, but unless we work into a goal or make plans to carry it out, it will fizzle out in a few weeks.
I’m also thankful for the reminder that we can come to Him for rest and grace when we fail in our goals and that our standing is based on His keeping us and not our keeping goals.
As I look ahead to this New Year, there are areas I need to “keep on keeping on” in, to strengthen, to excel in, to repair. So far we don’t have any big items on the calendar that we know of — no graduations, weddings, etc., but who knows what a day (or a year) may bring forth. I know God is fully aware of what’s around the bend and we can rely on His grace for whatever good or bad may come.
I’m still working on my personal goals for the year. One thing I am thinking about arose from the reminder several times this past year that as we grow in the Lord, we’re not just supposed to be separating ourselves more and more from sin, but we’re supposed to be following after and growing more and more in the positive Christlike qualities. As I wrote earlier this year, that kind of focus can make a difference and encourage us both in our positive spiritual growth and in “putting off” the old things. So I am thinking about making a study through the year of the fruit of the Spirit and other character qualities of God, maybe taking one a month or so and studying it out in Scripture first in how it is displayed in Him and then how it’s to be displayed in us.
I want to leave you with a little poem I just saw this morning at Susan‘s:
What shall I wish thee this New Year?
Health, wealth, prosperity, good cheer,
All sunshine- not a cloud or tear?
Nay! Only this:
That God may lead thee His own way,
That He may choose thy path each day,
That thou mayest feel Him near alway,
For this is bliss!
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2