When I get to this time of year I become a bit introspective. I don’t make resolutions or promise myself that “this is the year…” I haven’t seen many resolutions make it to January 31 let alone an entire year. (Although one year my daughter and I made a commitment to forego drinking soda for an entire year. And we did it. As a result, I rarely drink pop now.)
But it’s more than that. Generally speaking, I don’t make resolutions. My thinking tends to be ruminating the year … pondering the highs and lows, the good and bad, the funny and sad. In my imagination, the year appears as calendar pages all scribbled up. You know, the marks that remind us of appointments scheduled and then the mark through when we did it.
But it’s more than that. In my imagination there are pictures on the calendar pages. Snapshots of camping with my sisters and mom, family dinner and laughing as my son recounts an event in a way only he can do, snuggles with my granddaughter, hearing her surprised voice saying, “Chocolate! Grandma!” in a conspiratorial sort of way as I push chocolate chips into her freshly baked croissant.
But it’s more than that. In my imagination, I see the hard times too. I remember days of loneliness, disappointment or sadness when life turned down trails or brought changes I didn’t expect. I see the opportunity to cling to my Father and allow him to form me into his likeness. I see when I took the opportunity and when I didn’t.
So as I sit here today allowing my mind to walk through those months of memories, I am filled with gratitude for all my year has taught me. It hasn’t been easy all the time, but it’s in those moments as I pressed in that I gained strength, beauty and character beyond my wildest imagination.
I would like to challenge you as you begin a new year to meditate on Paul’s words from Philippians 3.
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing:
Forgetting the past and looking to what lies ahead.
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.Philippians 3:12-14
Let’s take this apart just a bit. Paul is talking to the believers about the value of knowing Christ. In the past, he had put his confidence in what he had achieved. He was born in the right place at the right time to the right parents with the right education and, basically, he had it going on. And then he met Jesus and realized nothing he could do would ever make him right with God. Jesus did that on the cross. So he discarded everything he had achieved and put his faith in what Jesus did on the cross. His goal was to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Wow! Me too! So in the verses I shared above, Paul goes on to say that he isn’t there yet. He hasn’t completely experienced all of Christ but he continues to press into what Jesus wants for him. And he does that by doing one thing. Well, really I see it as two things. First, he forgets the past.
Here it is – permission to forget the past. Maybe as you look over the last year you experience regret or shame. Forget it! It doesn’t have to determine your new year. The next twelve months are full of possibility in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Our Father wants to do a new thing in your life and it begins now. So, forget the past. It’s over. It’s possible there might be some clean up to do in regard to mistakes we made, but do it quickly and move on to the new opportunities before you.
I also encourage you to forget accomplishments from last year. I know that sounds odd, but I believe that a mountain top experience can be a major obstacle to new growth. Why? Because we become so fixated on what happened before that we try to recreate it. Or we just live on the energy of that experience and don’t lean into what might be on the horizon, another great opportunity for growth, ministry or challenge.
So forget the past. Secondly, lean into what is ahead. Paul says he presses in to reach the prize. These words in the original language indicate the energy one exerts when leaning into a task – like pushing a stalled car out of the highway. It isn’t just mental ascent to something that is a good idea. It’s full of determination and effort.
So, lean in! Be alert! Watch for the new things God is doing and will do in your life. Expect God to see you and act on your behalf. He is so interested in you. He DELIGHTS in you!
Will there be tough days ahead. Yes. Of Course. It’s life. One thing we can know for sure is that there will be trouble, but he’s got it! That’s his job. He said that’s why he gave us his peace and presence.
It is going to be an exciting year and I am so looking forward to spending it together! I invite you to check out the Daily Reads section of this website. In the next couple of days I am going to begin posting daily readings that will deepen the thoughts presented in the weekly blog. I’m still working out the kinks, but I look forward to meeting you every day!
Until next time….
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.Numbers 6:24-26