It might sound cliché, but a new year brings a strong sense of expectation and excitement for the adventure that lies ahead. The opportunity for things to be better, for life to be more colourful, as we start a new chapter of life. Personally, this year has been nothing short of incredible, and not for conventional reasons. I definitely didn’t always get my way, I’ve had my fair share of trials and mistakes. But getting to know God in personally over the last 12 months – especially in the worst of times – has changed my outlook, my behaviour and ultimately, my life. Despite what happens there are many reasons to be grateful. Not everyone may feel that way, and that’s fine – I hope that as we move towards 2016, getting to know Jesus more will fill the gaps in your life and flood your areas of darkness with light.
That’s enough about the past, what about the future? I love a good old resolution, but they can be notoriously difficult to keep. So in 2016 I’m making it a point to keep these two simple principles at the forefront of my mind. Whether you believe in making resolutions or not, doing these two simple things may help make 2016 one to remember:
Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. – Habakkuk 2:2 MSG
What do you want to achieve next year? What experiences do you want to have? Whatever it is, write (or type) it down. It’s so easy to have verbal goals and wishes: pipedreams. But when you sit down and clearly define what it is that you’re after your mind becomes more focused. After all, 365 days is a long time and it’s unlikely we’ll remember what we planned word for word. Unless we record it. I've seen this principle work in my life this year, now I'm making a point to be bolder and more specific with areas that I want to see change in 2016. Writing goals down will also give you a point of reference that reminds you why you started in the first place, when life gets busy and challenges arise.
'So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion' - Hebrews 10:35-36
‘Get rid of everything that slows us down’ – Hebrews 12:1 CEV
Once you've written it down, get started. I recently I wrote about how decluttering your life and stripping down to what really matters is essential to growth. This may also include saying goodbye to some good things, as 'everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial'. By doing this you’re able to ‘run light’ with the bear essentials and enlarge your territory where it counts. Hebrews 12 uses the imagery of an athlete running and I visualise someone who is in the early stages of a marathon; just like a lot of us feel like we are still at the beginning of our journey with God. When first you start something you aim to gain momentum as soon as possible by streamlining. So let go of the undue pressures you've taken on, let go of some negative feelings held towards people who have wronged you this year – and focus on the goal. When we can handle the smallest weight, we get stronger and are therefore able pick up more things along the road. The best example of this is Jesus himself:
'Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it.
Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever [...]
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!' - Hebrews 12:1-3
So here we are, on the threshold of the next phase; a chance to embrace the unknown and start again. How are you preparing for the new year? Let me know.
This is me, signing off for 2015 - I'll be back in January with some more posts. But before I do, I’ve rounded up some of the most influential books of my 2015. Watch this space for a new post coming very soon!