By Erin Englert
Can I be honest with you all? New Year’s Day seems a little sneaky to me. After we’ve spent the last two months gorging ourselves on cream cheese balls and all manner of delicious sweets, we are walloped with a holiday that has self-evaluation baked into its DNA. Like, seriously? Who planned this out? I’m not ready to be under the microscope!
All criticisms aside, I actually enjoy New Year’s Day. It feels like a fresh start. It reminds me that we actually serve the God of endless fresh starts. Lamentations 3:22-23 reads, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” The slate is wiped clean not only every New Year but every morning.
So as I sit here in jeans that feel a little tighter than I’d like, I’m gently reminded of a subtle perspective shift. New Year’s Day isn’t about recommitting to wrestle our own achievements from this life. It’s an invitation to pause, reflect and dream about what God has in store for us in 2020.
Pause. When was the last time you had nothing to do? If you’re anything like me, I’m willing to bet it’s been a while. We so rarely get the time to pause. Even moments that could be used to pause, I often fill them with mindlessly scrolling on my social media feeds.
Taking the time to pause is actually a spiritual discipline. Jesus himself often withdrew from his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray. It’s important to note that these retreats never happened by accident.
Pausing requires a deliberate effort. Use this holiday as your reminder! In the next week, carve out an hour or two to stop everything just for a moment. Wake up early one day. Trade some babysitting time with a friend. Schedule an hour at a coffee shop after work. Retreat to your room an hour early before bed. Literally, schedule it into a day this week to pause and reflect on this last year.
Reflect. It’s always surprising to remember all that happens in a year. Look through your photos, your calendars and your planners. Reminisce on the big and small events. Review the happiness and the hurt. Think about your different communities- family, church, school, work, etc. How did you see God’s guiding hand in the happenings of 2019?
Good questions can really help with reflection. Here are a few to get you started:
What did I rejoice over this year?
What did I mourn over this year?
In what relationships, did I experience meaningful connections?
What made me come alive this year?
What am I building into my life?
How did I grow, and where do I see a need for more growth?
What am I holding on to that I need to surrender to God?
Where and when did I feel most connected with God this year?
What has God worked in my life in the past year?
Dream. What is God calling you to in 2020? How does He want to use you this year?
What are you hoping for this year? How will you invite God into your hopes and dreams?
We don’t often start with these kinds of questions when we’re dreaming and making resolutions. I tend to focus on what I’d like to achieve, and I’m beginning to think that’s the wrong focus. In my own strength, I will fail, but if I go with God, how can I fail?
Here are a few more questions to help you start dreaming:
Where can I give of my time, talents and resources this year?
Who is God calling me to minister to this year?
How can I grow more in my relationship with God and what are the habits that will help me grow?
What will encourage those around me?
What bad habits are keeping me from being more available to God?
As you pause, reflect and dream this New Year’s Day, I hope that you can approach it hand-in-hand with our Savior. Any of our present or future achievements pale in comparison to all that He has achieved on the cross for us. He truly is the God of endless fresh starts which fills us with thanksgiving and hope. We can depend on His faithfulness.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23