"Stop dwelling on the past. Don’t even remember these former things. I am doing something brand new, something unheard of. Even now it sprouts and grows and matures. Don’t you perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and open up flowing streams in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19
Happy New Year! As 2019 has come to a close and we start a new year, it is common practice to look back over the last twelve months. We carve out time to reflect on the highs and lows, the surprises, the heartaches, and all that took place in the year behind us. We remember our holidays and trips taken, our gains and losses, and both the sweet and bitter moments. Sometimes, this can be a painful process because the year has been tough, and you may be more than ready to rid 2019 goodbye and ring in 2020. Or perhaps you celebrated a milestone birthday or anniversary. Maybe you welcomed a new child into your family, or reached a goal you had set for yourself. It can be helpful to look back over the year and reminisce about all we've been through; noting the good times and recognizing the hardships you endured.
As you look back, I encourage you to also look up.
God's word prompts us to do something a little different every now and then. Let go of the past -- all your former successes and failures (see: Phil. 3:13) -- and be present. Right now, God is doing something in your life. Look up at Him now and embrace His handiwork in your life. Look up to Him as you surrender, wait for, and anticipate all that is ahead, and also, all that is happening right now. Look up in the new year.
Can you notice what He's doing? Do you sense His presence and work in your life? Are you seeking His guidance?
As we set our goals and plan for the year ahead, let us also learn to practice looking up. Look up and let the Lord take the lead on your life. Look up and set down the calendar, take a break from the busyness, and bask in His goodness. Look up and be content with what you have. Remember, the purpose of another year of life and breath isn't to be successful, or to check off your list of goals, but rather, our purpose is to love the Lord and further His kingdom. Look up in the new year.
As the new year begins, rest assure that He has good plans for you. And you don't have to have it all figured out for those plans to come to fruition. For now, we can forget what is behind us and instead, rest in His arms, knowing that He is doing something new and wonderful in our lives. That may not mean life will be easy or pain free, but it will be blessed, abundant, and good.
As we look to the new year, the hope is that we make time for more of God in our lives. More worship, more prayer, more Scripture. We need more Christian community, more church, and more opportunities to serve. May we give more of our time and talents and gifts. May we share the Gospel, love God, and love others. May you remember who you are in Christ as you set out to prepare your heart for the new year. May you find 2020 marked with a thirst to know God deeper and to pursue Him with all you are. And mostly, keep looking up.
Suggested readings: Isaiah 26, Psalm 28, Psalm 32, Hebrews 11, 1 John 5
Lord, we thank you for another year of life and breath. We are grateful for all that You brought us in 2019, and are ready for what You have in 2020. Lord, bless our families. Bless the work we do and the people we will minister to. Help us to share the Gospel and further Your kingdom. Bring peace to our homes, families, and relationships. Let there be healing and restoration where needed. And let us put our hope and trust fully in You. You are a good God who is full of mercy, compassion and love for us. Let us rest in Your presence and stand on Your promises for this coming year. Amen.
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