Happy New Year!
I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year! Wait. Let me clarify. I’m not a fan of winter at all. In fact, February feels like the longest month of the year to me, but these weeks between Christmas and mid-January are among my favorites. Why? It’s a time of looking forward to the new year.
Some people make resolutions, some make goals, some make vision boards or pick a word to walk with them through the year. And some of us simply jump in without a second thought. Is one way better than the others? I don’t know. I’ve tried them all. But there are a few things I’ve learned are key for all these ways. Without them plans and intentions tend to crumble and fade.
What are those things?
Let’s look at John the Baptist. He was the one who was there when Jesus began His public ministry.
A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.Matthew 3:3 NIV
John’s whole purpose in life was to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus and he had one message that he preached non-stop: Repent.
The best way I’ve found for having a good year is preparing for it.
And the best way to prepare for a new year? Start by looking back at the old year, seeing what was good and bad, and what worked and what didn’t. By looking back and seeing what I need to repent of so I can move forward unhindered without that old sin holding me back or weighing me down.
Let me encourage you to take some time and look back at 2022. What was good? What made it good? What was bad? What made it bad? Where did you fall? Why did you fall? Work through month by month. Need some help? (I know I do! I can barely remember last week, let alone last year!) Scroll through your pictures on your phone. They’re a great visual reminder of what happened and will jog your memory for the events around those pictures too.
But don’t stall out looking at the pictures!!
Press on and really think about what went on last year.
This is NOT the time to be a cheerleader, girls. This is a time to scrutinize things, digging for what really happened and what you need to repent of. Ask God to show you what you need to see. Just leaving it in the past, buried, is like leaving a splinter buried in your finger. It will eventually come out, after causing you a lot of pain, and it’ll come out along with all kinds of nastiness. It’s better to search it out and remove it before it becomes even more of a problem.
Once you’ve looked back, bring it before God and let Him have access to it. Repent of those things you need to repent of, whatever they might be.
Remember what repentance means?
Repenting is having remorse, turning away from one thing and turning to face something else.
Repent, have remorse for those things, let go of those old things that won’t help you, turn away from them and make room for the new. Turn to God and what He has for you.
Once you’ve repented it’s time to look forward into the new year and think about how to best proceed to make the most of the time. This isn’t just a time for dreaming about what you’d like to do, this time is best spent in prayer.
If you’re a goal setter, pray over those goals as you make them and as you work towards them. Is this a goal one that will bring you closer to God? Is there one goal He wants to see emphasized over the others?
If you’re making a vision board, pray over each element before adding it to your board. Is this something God wants in your life this year? Is there something He wants you to add as a reminder that you’re resisting so you haven’t added it?
As you settle on a word for the year, pray and ask God to give you a word. But be prepared–He doesn’t always give you the word you want or one you think is cool. Sometimes it’s a word you want nothing to do with–like RUN, and you hate exercise. But wait–what if that’s not the run God is talking about? What if He wants you to do a different kind of running this year?
And if you’re one who doesn’t do any of those things, you can still pray over your year! Ask God for His direction.
Another thing that goes with praying over your year… Listen.
Don’t just ask God for His direction and then keep talking. Stop and listen. Spend some prayer time listening and write down what thoughts come and dialog with God about them. Ask for clarity and listen.
Sometimes the answers don’t come when you’d like them to, you know, in the first ten seconds of listening. Sometimes His answers come later, as you’re washing dishes, showering, folding laundry, driving or waiting in the school line.
Cultivate a listening, attentive attitude so you can sense His whispers and gentle nudges. And ask God to help you listen better. Ask God to help you be sensitive to His voice and His hand quietly pointing out the next step.
Pray without ceasing.
Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart and give Him the opportunity to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think.
So tell me, do you make goals? Make vision boards? Have a word? Free wheel?
How does it work for you?
And if you haven’t stopped to look back, repent and pray over your way forward, it’s not too late. Stop now and ask God for His guidance and then make the adjustments necessary because His ways are always the best.