Looking Back, Looking Forward

new-years-day-1114516_640Happy New Year, everyone! 2015 has given way to 2016, and we are all waiting expectantly to find out what the new year holds for each one of us.

A couple years ago I started some personal year-end, year-start traditions of my own. Perhaps some of you may like to try them out as well.

On New Year’s Eve, I put together a month-by-month list of special things that have happened over the past year: prayers that have been answered, great blessings from God, and whatever really pops out to me as important. It is so neat to see how all the puzzle pieces of my life fit together – how a desire may have been born in one month, and then a few months later, that desire was fulfilled. Or how God has been teaching me specific lessons that may follow a certain theme throughout the year. It is really neat – you should try it sometime! It is probably much easier to accomplish if you keep a journal, like I do, but even if you don’t, you can still put together a nice little list.

And then on New Year’s Day, I start to look forward into the new year. I don’t exactly make New Year’s resolutions – that just ends up being a big waste of time. But I do set some goals, and think about what I would like to see happen before the end of the year – whether they are goals that I have to personally accomplish, or just prayers that I would like to see answered, or whatever.

The tradition started when someone sent me a list of questions to ask myself on the New Year. I don’t have the original list anymore, but I do have some of the best questions written in my journals for reference, so here they are to get you started:

  • What are my spiritual goals for the year?
  • What are my academic goals for the year? (If you’re not in school, you can change this question to be more applicable)
  • What is one area I want to grow in this year?
  • What is one thing I could do this year to increase my enjoyment of God?
  • What’s the most humanly impossible thing I will ask God to do this year?
  • What’s the single most important thing I could do to improve the quality of my family life this year?
  • In which spiritual discipline do I most want to make progress this year, and what will I do about it?
  • What is the single biggest time-waster in my life, and what will I do about it?
  • What is the most helpful new way I could strengthen my church?
  • For whose salvation will I pray most fervently this year?
  • Who is the person I most want to encourage this year?
  • What’s one new way I could be a blessing to my pastor this year?
  • What one thing do I most regret about last year, and what will I do about it?

Write the answers down and tuck them away somewhere where you can reference them again. When the New Year comes ’round again, you can look back and see how you did. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do everything I had written down. But making those goals and having those desires can propel you forward to doing more than you may have done if you hadn’t.

It will be interesting to see what this new year holds for us. I was thinking this morning about how much could possibly transpire in this one year. I will be graduating from college, and my brother from high school. I’ll be turning 20 (which makes me sound so old!). Who knows where we will be by this time next year? It is partly exciting, partly scary. But while the future may be uncertain, I am confident that God will continue to put all the puzzle pieces together, until they are finally connected in one unified, beautiful picture.

 

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