There is something wonderful about the start of a new year, isn’t there? A clean calendar and planner to fill in. The promise of a fresh start and the anticipation of what the year will hold. Maybe relief that the last year has ended because it was full of difficulties and pain. There’s a reason that January 1 is pictured with an old man giving way to a baby.
With the freshness of a new year, many Americans have a practice of making resolutions. Things they will do differently, changes they will make. I’m not sure how many people succeed in these. My guess is that the percentage of those with good intentions who actually follow through on them for 365 days is small.
Since I’m in the higher percentage (i.e. the one that fails to follow through), I have stopped making resolutions. But this year I decided to do a couple of different things to start off my new year. One thing I did is make some goals for the year instead of resolutions. Maybe to you there doesn’t seem to be that much difference between the two, but for me there is enough that it gives me motivation. With resolutions I have a tendency to feel defeated quickly in January, and then I just quit. (Such is another drawback of being a perfectionist.) But with my goals, I have a whole year to work to accomplish them so I feel energized and hopeful and focused. I’ll let you know in 2016 how well it works!
Besides setting goals, though, I’ve decided this year to also have a list of things I am trusting God for in 2015. When I was on staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) at Clemson University, we used to take time at the end of each school year to plan for the next year. Part of that was picking five things we wanted to trust God for that year. It might be how many freshmen would get involved or how many students would come to know Christ or how many would go to conferences or on missions trips. After my first couple of years there, we started having our student leadership team decide what we were going to trust God for, and they really stretched the faith of our staff team!
I came to love and appreciate several things about this process. One is that it gave us all focus. It gave us focus in our prayers as we regularly asked God to do these five things. But it also gave us focus in how we spent our time. These were our priorities, and so our time began to reflect them. Another thing I loved about it was the way it increased our faith. It was amazing to get to the end of the year, look back at what we asked God to do, and then see what He did. I remember the first year that the students made these decisions. They wanted to trust God for 40 freshmen to get involved in our movement. That was a huge faith goal because I think we had seen a total of maybe 15 new people from all classes get involved the year before. We were in awe in April as we listed the freshmen who had been a part of Cru and realized that it was even more than the 40 we had asked God to bring. Which leads me to the last reason I loved choosing things to trust God for each year – it led to worship and awe and thanksgiving.
So this year I made a list of things to trust God for. Some of them are personal and some are part of the ministry of Women with Purpose. There are ones about evangelism and discipleship and Bible studies, but also some about relationships and finances. Of course, just because I am trusting God to do these things doesn’t mean that I don’t have to do anything. If I am trusting Him to see someone come to know Christ, I need to take the initiative to share my faith. If I am trusting Him to build relationships with my neighbors, I need to get out of my house to meet them and also invite them over. But at the same time, all of the things on my list are ultimately things that are out of my control. They all require God to graciously work.
So what do you want to trust God for this year?
- Sharing the gospel with a co-worker?
- Repairing a relationship?
- Discipling another woman as you encourage her in her faith?
- Excelling in your work?
- Changing your attitude towards a difficult co-worker?
- Finding a place to serve in your community?
- Getting to know your neighbors?
Whatever it is, I encourage you to make it as specific as you can so it will be very clear when God works. When we pray for things that are vague, it can be hard to know if God really answered. But when we pray for specific things and God answers specifically, we overflow with thanksgiving to Him.
I’m excited to see what 2015 holds. God’s plan is always good. I definitely had no idea when 2014 started that I would be writing this blog and trying to start a ministry in my community to women in the marketplace! What other surprises does He have in store for me? How will He answer my prayers? How will he do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think”? (Ephesians 3:20)
Happy New Year!