I’ve been a little emotional this week as I’ve reflected back on 2021 and to be honest, I’m overwhelmed by God’s goodness. Time and again, He has shown himself faithful and has blessed far beyond my expectation. Reflection is rewarding because it helps us to bear witness to and celebrate God’s glory. We pause and take a look back with intentionality while also considering the direction of our lives. The month of December is an opportune time for reflection, repentance, and anticipation of the coming year.
As followers of Jesus, we are to make distinctions between ourselves and those of this world. C.S. Lewis penned, “Glory is an all pervasive reality that surrounds us every day and beckons us to belief and delight.” Godly living focuses on Christ. In doing so, we become evidence of the one who made us. The blood sacrifice of Jesus was not that we might be a people serving ourselves but to become His people, saved out of this world. In Haggai Chapter One, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai: “Consider your ways!” God clearly wanted the people to reflect on some things and evaluate their spirituality in light of what God had told them. This December I ask myself:
- Have I been faithful in 2021? Have I walked out my faith and lived consistently biblical?
- Have I been a good steward of the time I’ve been given? In what ways have I served my neighbor and my church?
- Have I taken time to enjoy God and simply “be” in his presence, while in his Word, prayer, or church?
- Have I shown myself to be teachable? Have I grown in biblical knowledge?
As Christians, it is appropriate for us to establish and keep certain priorities and principles as we strive to love and follow Christ. Under God’s sovereignty he gives us a measure of responsibility over many areas of life. Truthfully reflecting has potential to reveal problem areas. Taking time to pause brings an issue or commitment into focus. Beyond reflection, may we evaluate our shortcomings as we bring them to the foot of the cross. By confession and repentance we gain strength from the Giver’s fresh grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds us, But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. We can begin anew with confidence that in our weakness we rely continuously on the strength of our Lord. Beginning the new year with repentance is to draw closer to Jesus Christ.
For many of us, 2021 will go out with a mix of joys and sorrows, goals achieved and opportunities missed, friendships gained and relationships lost. This is a time to renew commitments, show love, and grow friendships. All the while, remember that God himself provides new experiences and opportunities in his steadfast love. Isaiah 43:19 reads, Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Before posing new ideas and resolutions in anticipation of 2022, we would do well to consider how we use our days. Reflecting past and present realities gives clarity and wisdom for the future. Are you sincerely setting God highest in your thoughts? Do you hold him in the highest possible position? And asking, Do my resolutions match my priorities? Anticipation of the new year is a good time to consider Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Setting goals for a new year is an important sign that we’re intentional about glorifying God.
I’m working now to establish goals for the new year; it’s a process. Truth is, we need to do a heart check when goal setting. Jonathan Edwards remarked, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.” Keep in mind, if we desire to know God more, to experience an intimate relationship with him in 2022, we must learn from him and about Him. God has also given us gifts and talents and has said that we are called to do good works (Ephesians 2: 8-10, Romans 12:4-8, Matthew 25:14-30). When our resolutions align with scripture our efforts glorify God and that time will be redeemed. May we commit to making God-honoring plans and goals, and to live the new year with biblical diligence, remembering our dependence on our King, who said in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Each year’s passing serves as a reminder of the frailty of life with the breath of a new year – a miracle, a gift given to us. In a sense, each day with Jesus is a chance to turn the page on an old way of life and embrace a new one. And as we wrap up this year, may we approach the Lord in humble reliance on His grace as we seek not merely the blessings but the One who blesses.