Thursday, December 28, 2017

Finding a New Direction for 2018...and Why I Look for One

In the beginning, God created...By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested...
Genesis 1:1a, Genesis 2:2

We've just about finished our work for 2017.

It's time to create some space and follow the Lord-God's lead to initiate a Sabbath Rest as we enter into a New Year.

A Sabbath Rest with purpose.

A day to intentionally cast a vision for my New Year.

I'm preparing for some time-alone-with-God already, in order to do so.

I've gone back over this last year's calendar and thanked the Lord for all the good...
Wept a little over some of the significant losses and a few of the difficult days...
...and, I've expressed gratitude in both cases...

I've pulled out a new calendar for 2018 (I use the one on my phone A LOT, but I sure still like the tangible hardback-kind that has a month-at-a-glance and space to fill in for the week (the weekly-format gives me space to write down reminders of each day's happenings - those things I want to cherish; and, often, how the Lord has helped me through...). The new calendar is most handy when I sit at the end-of-the-year and do the look-back.

I've said it often: I love sitting on the end of a year to look ahead. For me, New Year's Eve holds all the excitement of opening the pages of a new novel. I can't wait to see what is written on the pages, and see how the story will unfold. To be sure, some authors are better than others; and, some stories have happier endings...but every story has some kind of a lesson to learn.

The good news is the Lord who has our every-day planned is the BEST author of all.

He knows what He is doing with our story.

He will make no mistakes, no matter what turns and twists, ups and downs, difficulties and delights await us in the chapter of our lives named 2018.

For this I am most grateful.

I do have a hand in my story to a degree. I'm not simply a puppet on a string...there are a few choices I can make that will help me be a better me at the end of 2018 (regardless of those things over which I have no control - like aging).

I'm not talking about New Year's Resolutions, where I begin strong on January 1 and by January 15 have fizzled and failed.

Rather, I'm thinking more about creating an action plan that will help me establish an attainable  destination, and to set some steps in the right direction that will get me there...or get me close! After all, every decision I make in 2018 will either head me in the right direction to arrive at my destination, or I'll end up somewhere I never planned.

In order to set those directional steps, there are a few things that I like to do in preparation.

1. I set aside some quiet alone time (Sabbath Rest) on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. It doesn't have to be long...

2. I ask these questions: What big life lessons did I learn last year? What ones are positive and helpful; which ones do I not ever want to repeat? Are there things that need completing: projects, promises, personal plans/goals? Are there relationships that need mending? Am I being a good steward of the body, mind, and soul the Lord-God has given me for the journey?

3. These questions help me get started on my action set some priorities (like finishing what needs to be completed, taking ownership of righting some relationships, fulfilling previous promises-made)... and, to put into place some intentional steps that lead me in the right direction (beginning a Bible Study, reading specific new books, finding a new exercise plan to follow, taking an online class...this list is unique to each of our needs).

4. I, then, sit with the Lord and ask if there is a one-word-focus that sums up His goal for me in the New Year (one year, the word I heard from Him was GRATITUDE and I began a gratitude journal, which totally began turning around my glass-half-empty-mindset; one year, the word was AWE and I looked for the magical mystery of God in the world around me, discovering that it led to a proper "fear-of-the-Lord," which helped eliminate some of my own personal fears that I have so long struggled with...) Don't wrestle with this, or overthink you pray, what word comes to your mind? Now, explore it...

There is only one guideline for all of this reflection: It's not to make perfection a standard (if that's the case, I fail EVERY! TIME!)...

Perfection is only attainable the other-side-of-heaven. The whole concept is simply to set a tone for the new chapter that God will write on the pages of our lives. No, the aim is NOT perfection!!!

The plans I make at the beginning of a New Year are simply making a statement with my choices that I AM ALL IN FOR WHATEVER THE LORD'S PEN HAS FOR ME IN THE NEW YEAR.

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