“Time waits for no man.” This age-old proverb still rings true today. The older I get, the more I agree with this statement. Just yesterday, I was getting before the Lord to see what goals I needed to set for 2021, and now the calendar has flipped to begin a brand new year. Last year is a thing of the past, and the future is before us.
Looking back over 2021, I’m sure you’ve experienced some ups and downs, some goals being met, while others…not so much. Some of us could have gained members to our family, while others lost loved ones. Whatever the case, be it good or bad experiences, all of it is behind us, and we can start again with a new year.
That’s the beauty of a new year; things can become new. The new year brings a feeling of a clean slate. We can all start anew, and we, as people, love all things new. We love the new car smell, new furniture, and even new clothes. Why else do people go and buy brand new iPhones when they have a perfectly good one currently in their possession? It’s because new and shiny things can capture our attention like nothing else can.
But why is that?
Simply put, we often believe the new is better than the old. Studies have proven that our brains are hard-wired to prefer novelty over the familiar1. If something is new to us, it has never been explored, and we can have optimism as we experience that which is new.
This is why the new year is appealing to so many people. We can experience something we have never experienced. We also can endeavor to start again.
Now, I know not everyone views a new year with a sparkle in their eye, but I do believe we should all have some approach to facing a new year. Although the Bible gives no formal instruction on entering a new year, wisdom can still be found within its pages to prepare us for our future.
With that being said, let’s explore four ways to approach our new year with Christ. These four ways will ensure we are on the best path to redeem the time the Lord has gifted us with.
“Reflection. Looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer.”-Unknown.
Before we enter into a new season of life, I think a good habit to institute in our lives is reflection. It’s good for us to set aside time to look back on the year we just came out of before entering another year. I encourage you to think about the highs and lows of the previous year. Journal about what accomplishments you were able to make. Explore the met and unmet goals you had, and discover how you can do it better this year.
As you look back, you will find that hindsight is always 20/20. You can see a fuller picture that you couldn’t see when you are in the thick of it.
So take time to reflect. It may lead you to even say, “look what the Lord has done.” He poured out his extraordinary grace on us and allowed you and me to make it through yet another year. We can join in with Paul and declare, “but by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
After you have looked back over the year, I think it’s good to evaluate your relationship with Christ. Have things gotten a little off for you? How often do you read your Bible nowadays? Has your prayer life improved, plateaued, or declined over the last year? Does it feel like you are just going through the motions regarding your relationship with the Lord?
If things have gotten dry and stale, the new year is an excellent time to renew your commitment to Christ again. If we have been walking out of alignment with Jesus, we should do whatever it takes to realign ourselves. Ephesians 5:15 instructs us to look carefully at how we are walking. If we are out of alignment, we are not walking in step with His Spirit. How far out of alignment we are will determine what steps we need to take to realign ourselves. No matter what the steps are; however, they all begin with us repenting before the Lord. When we repent, He is faithful to forgive and put us back in right relationship with him (1 John 1:9).
“You know the value of prayer: it is precious beyond all price. Never, never neglect it.”-Sir Thomas Buxton.
Prayer is essential to us as believers. I fear that we give in to the temptation to neglect it all too often. When approaching a new year, I charge you to engage in prayer and seek the Lord’s guidance for your life. We don’t know what awaits us in the coming year, but we know the One who does. We can boldly go before his throne and ask Him to direct us.
Here is a list of some things we can ask the Lord to direct us on:
- Knowing his will for our lives
- Where to spend our time and energy for this year
- How to cultivate the gifts He entrusted us with
We need wisdom in all these areas, and praying is one way to obtain that wisdom. So pray, saints. Pray with an expectation that the Lord will hear and answer you. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” Go into this new year praying for his guidance and when he answers, be careful to do what he says.
4. Set Goals
“Failing to plan is like planning to fail.”-Benjamin Franklin.
Success doesn’t happen by accident. There has to be a plan in place that will take what the Lord reveals to us in prayer and allow it to come to fruition. Goal setting can be one tool the Lord uses to help this process along. When we set goals, it is our way of being intentional to see the call of God on our lives fulfilled. The Lord has entrusted us with assignments and specific giftings to fulfill those assignments. When we set goals, we are being intentional not to squander what has been entrusted into our hands.
Goal setting calls on us to have a higher level of discipline. This can be unattractive to many. Although discipline doesn’t feel good when we are being trained by it, it yields fruit that blesses us and those around us. So meditate on scriptures that will kill procrastination and enable you to be disciplined enough to reach your goals.
And lastly, look for accountability within your Christian community. You don’t have to do it all alone. Accountability can be an excellent motivator for reaching the goals you set out to achieve in the coming year.
The Future Looks Bright
The past has gone, and the future is before us. Reflect on the previous year, and realign to Christ where necessary. Pray for revelation on where to spend your time, energy, and efforts this year, and set goals that will help you fulfill the call of God on your life. We can approach the new year with confidence when we approach it with Christ. When we prepare for our year with the Lord, we can then commit whatever we do to Him, “and he will establish our plans” (Proverbs 16:3).
With the Son of God leading us, our future looks bright.