I love the New Year.
Yet, the New Year 2009 sounds rather odd. I suppose we will get used to saying "2009" until it no longer sounds odd but normal. Nevertheless, it is here. For some people the New Year means little more than getting off work for a day, watching football, and perhaps having family or friends come over for a meal.
The New Year really can be much more than this. It can be a wonderful, powerful time of the year during which we take a good look at life, where we’ve been, and where we are going. For me, it is a time for a lot of reflection, which is usually very helpful. I often spend time thinking and praying about where I seem to be in my thinking, my feelings, my behavior, and my commitments. After all, sometimes we move so quickly through life that we don’t really reflect on our day, our week, our month, or even our year. Instead, we are in perpetual motion. Have you ever known anyone who just could not be still? Some people have difficulty stopping long enough to think. In fact, some may be fearful of doing this kind of reflection and having to face life as it is.
Maybe a good place to begin is to look at both our "outside" and our "inside." Think of your life as a house. Most of the time, we only see the outside of someone’s house. We may drive through a neighborhood and see house after house. Yet, the outside of these houses really does not say that much about what is going on inside. You’ve heard stories about the police entering a nice home only to discover scores of cats, filth everywhere, and piles and piles of garbage/trash. What may look nice when you are driving by may actually look quite different once you get beyond the front door. Beyond the front door may be a family that is barely functioning. In fact, they may be strangers living under the same roof.
What are you like beyond the "front door" of your life? Once you get beyond your appearance, your image, and what you hope to project to others, what are you really like inside? Let me encourage you to join me in looking beyond the front door. The New Year is such a good time to do this kind of work.
Is there a particular "room" in your life that needs attention? For example:
1. Health — Are you a good steward of the body God gave you? Do you pay attention to how you care for and nurture your body? Are you attentive to your need for nutrition, rest, and recreation? Or, do you pay little, if any, attention to caring for your body?
2. Relationships — What is it that characterizes your relationships? Do your friends and family see you as "high maintenance"? Are people in your life seeing Jesus in you? Do they see you as a person who is serious about life as a Christ-follower? Or, do they see you as little more than a person who "goes to church" on Sundays?
3. Money — Are you growing in your stewardship? Do you give liberally to your church and other kingdom-advancing causes? What about the financial crisis that we, as a nation, are experiencing? Are you learning to trust God during this time or are you worrying more?
Do you desire intimacy with God more than anything else? After all, he deeply desires to have an intimate relationship with you. As Ken Boa (Conformed to His Image, p. 32) has said, "Our Lord invites us to the highest calling of all — intimacy with him — and day after day, we decline the offer, preferring instead to fill our stomachs with the pods of short-lived pleasures and prospects."
"Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us; for all the pains and insults which thou hast born for us. O most redeemer, Friend, and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake." (St. Richard of Chichester, 1197-1253)
2009 is a year with promise. The promise of the year is rooted in the goodness and sovereignty of God. Thanks be to God that the future does not rest with us alone.