"Behold I will do a new thing,
now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Why do we make such a big deal about the new year? Of course it is an arbitrary date that man has made in order to help make sense of time. Some cultures even have different dates for the start of the new year. In Ethiopia our September 11th is there start of a new year, in China they will be starting their new year on February 16th. So really there isn't much to be said about the date that we decide is the new year. I don't know about you but I don't really feel any better or worse than I did yesterday.
That being said, it is good to have a time of reflection. A time where we stop, take a look at the direction our life is going and decide whether there is something that we need to change. A time where we can thank God for what has happened in the past and look forward to the new things that God has for us in the future. The new year is as good a time as any for this.
What happened in your life in 2017?
What are you thankful for?
What do you wish was different?
Take a moment to reflect on the past year. You might be able to say it was a good year or you might feel like it wasn't so good but I guarantee, if you look hard enough, you can find some good and some bad. You can find things to be thankful for and you can find things that you wish were different. Regardless of how your year was thank God for it all.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18
This is an important place to start when reflecting on things. It is through thankfulness that we enter into the gates of God's kingdom (Psalm 100:4) and that is where we want to start 2018.
However, it is also important to recognize what things we would have liked to go differently; what things we would like to change. This is important because, most likely, we are the ones who need to make the initiative to change those things.
If you want to better your relationship with God then you need to make the first step,
If you want a career change then there are things you can do to ready yourself for that change,
If you want to increase your income to give more or to pay off debt then there are things you can do to make that happen,
If you want to improve the relationships with your family and friends then that starts with you,
If you want to lose weight and get in shape then it is on you to make steps in that direction.
It all starts with you!
We don't look back on the things we didn't like in order to lament on how bad it was but in order to make steps to keep that from repeating.
If all we do is talk about how bad 2017 was then 2018 will just be a repeat. What are you doing to make a difference in your life and in the life of those around you? What are you changing in yourself that makes the world, at least your world, a better place?
This is where goals and plans come into place. We have a tradition of making New Year's resolutions but, as we all know, most people don't actually keep them. One of the major problems with how we do New Year's resolutions is that we make broad, general goals that aren't measurable, or they stretch out for too long of a time. It is hard to stick to a goal that we will only know if it is successful a year from now. If you have a goal for 2018 then break it down into smaller steps.
New Years Resolution: I want to spend more time in prayer.
This is a good resolution but by itself is not measurable. How will we know if we succeeded in spending more time in prayer?
Step 1: I am going to wake up 15 minutes earlier before work in order to spend that time in prayer each morning for the month of January and February.
Step 2: I am going to increase that time to 30 minutes for the month of March and April.
Step 3: I am going to start going to my room 15 minutes earlier every day to spend time in prayer before bed at night for the month of May and June.
Step 4: I am going to start going to increase that time to 30 minutes in the evening for the months of July and August.
All of a sudden you have an hour of dedicated prayer time added to every day and the year isn't even over. It would be hard to get this detailed with everything that we want to change but try taking one of your resolutions this year and break it down in step by step increments. Also remember that they say it takes at least 21 days to create a habit so give yourself time to do so.