How many times have I been in this place? You know, out with the old and in with the new? It just automatically calls for reflection. Often, we remember the bad, the hurtful, and the embarrassing. It is also easy to glide past the joyous, hopeful, and encouraging things that transpired over the last twelve months. I am not in favor of ignoring the pain but not hanging it around our necks like an anvil. The negatives have many times been my greatest teachers. This entire exercise should have some lessons that we should not forget. Why take an inventory or, as I say, 30,000 feet fly over the past year? A few questions worth pondering on the threshold of a new year.
A few questions:
- What have I learned? I have discovered that disappointment is an excellent instructor. Failure can be an event, but it is never a person.
- What do I need to put behind me? There are items that each of us needs to give to the Lord and move on. What are yours?
- What do I wish to change? Don’t try to tackle too many items at one time. Work on one or two. That will be plenty for the new year.
- What do I need to keep doing? There are many things in our lives that our positive and helpful, and I want to keep at those items.
- What can I do to help others? So much good can be accomplished by helping. It is, in a sense, a way to help ourselves.
This time of the year automatically imposes a little reflection. Yesterday I reflected on several things that transpired during this past year. A year ago, I was going through a series of lasts as I anticipated retirement in June. Little did I know that 81 days into retirement, I would accept an interim position. We moved, took a trip or two, and visited with friends. Susanne and I adapted to new rhythms and rituals, and there were fits and starts. This week I have the opportunity to reflect, review, and recalibrate.
My attention goes to what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Paul tells us this one thing I do! It sounds like a combination of two things. Forgetting the past and straining forward. While it is good to reflect on the past, it is not good to live in the past. The past is an event, not our address. Often we can so focus on our flubs, fumbles, and failings that we fail to give it all to the Lord and move on! There is only so much energy that any of us possess. Paul says to pour your energy into life in the here and now. The word he uses is translated as “strain.” He is not using strain as forcing, but rather a concerted effort or putting everything into making a difference today. Yesterday ended at midnight. The only thing we can do about it is to apologize, ask forgiveness, and promise to do it differently next time, but we cannot change what has already happened. Take the energy you could expend on regret and sadness and allow it to fuel your efforts today.
So, here is our chance to take a quick inventory of the past year and renew our effort to live for the Lord each day of the new year.
Happy New Year, friends!