This was one of the those beautiful years where the first day of the year was The Lord's Day. I can't imagine a better start to a new year than spending it worshiping, praising, and serving! It's a little hard to believe you'll be the only sibling still living at home the next time we celebrate New Year on Sunday.
New Year's Resolutions were wildly popular when I was a child: I can even remember having to write them out as a school assignment. Only rarely would a resolution last more than a week or two. They currently are out of fashion in our cynical world, but I expect they'll cycle back around in popularity again by the time you're reading this.
I no longer write New Year's resolutions for January 1, but I do take time to evaluate the previous year and renew my resolve to continue to put myself in "a place of grace".
Evaluating the Previous Year
My evaluation of the previous year is primarily done by reading through A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George each year in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. This powerful little book touches on nearly every area of a woman's life with forthright wisdom. As I read through a couple of chapters each morning and evening, I ask the Lord to search my heart and "see if there be any wicked way in me". Although my book is dog-eared and highlighted from nearly 15 years of annual readings, it still convicts, challenges, and comforts as though I'm reading it for the first time. I nearly always find that there is at least one area that I've fallen into worldly thinking and excused sinful, lazy behavior. There are dozens of "life evaluation questionnaires" available on the web this time of year, but I find reading this book a more effective tool in my own heart and life.
The more pleasant part of examining the previous year is tracing God's hand in my life. What I miss in the day-to-day living shines like a golden thread when I look back through the months. Often I'll see victory in an area that He's been working on for years, or a unique way He has chosen to give me a desire of the heart I scarcely knew I had.
Resolving to continue to put myself in "the place of grace" for another year
The second half of my preparation spiritually for the New Year is choosing a word or short phrase that I want to characterize my life during the upcoming year.
2011 was "Just Do It!" I needed to stop planning, researching, analyzing to find the best way and just get 'er done. I'll continue to build that habit as I head into 2012.
For 2012, I'm seeking to continue a trend the Lord started in my life about halfway through 2011:
One Golden Day
The ever-perky Mrs. George states the concept beautifully in the few paragraphs that end her book:
As you and I stand looking down the corridor of time, life can appear so hopeless, so pointless, so futile! But now for God's vision, a godly perspective!
Treat each day as if it and it alone were our 'golden day' -- then what a beautiful string of golden days we would have to give back again to our Lord!"
Treating each day as if it and it alone were our golden day is the how of practicing priorities, and it's also the why -- the motivation and the perspective we need. . .If you desire a good life, focus on having one good day, one quality day -- today! After all, as someone has observed, "every day is a little life, and our whole life is but a single day repeated."
. . .at the end of your day, your heart is satisfied and content. You have done the giving, the living, the following, and the loving. In return, God "satisfied your longing heart and filled your hungry soul with His goodness" (Psalm 107:9). The peace that you sense is the satisfaction that comes from gladly being spent in doing God's will, from being a woman after God's own heart -- for just one day!
Now. . .let that one day -- that one step -- encourage you to string your daily pearls into a lifetime of living as a woman after God's own heart!
As I seek to make each day a golden day, I'm keeping Luke's words in mind: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." If I can learn to be faithful with every day, it follows that my years -- my life -- will also be faithfully lived for my Savior.
Loving you more each year,