We bought the television from Kmart in Taylors in 1988. Long before flat screens or digital technology, this set included the turn knobs and required the antenna wires to be wrapped around the screws on the back of the tv. I watched many a show on that set while I lived at home. My mother – not one to be abreast of the latest technology – just got rid of this set one month ago. I surprised her with a new flat-screen television in early December, and we unplugged the old set that served our family for thirty years. I left the set at the dump to be released into 1980’s household electronics after-life.
Moving into another year involves letting go of old things and embracing some new ones. For me, the first couple of week of January include getting my mind in gear as I shift from the holidays into the winter of another calendar year.
I love the sights, sounds, routines, and excesses of Christmas. And partly because of my melancholy temperament, I find my spirit somewhat deflated the week or two after Christmas as the decorations go down and the feasting turns into dieting!
I find it helpful to embrace disciplines early in January, turn my mind into preparing for a productive year, and set my spirit to seek the Lord afresh.
Here are five suggestions to help embrace a mindset of moving forward towards a successful year:
1. Make time to pray.
January offers a good time to retool my prayer life. Spend extra time in prayer and Bible meditation. Ask the Holy Spirit, Prepare my mind and spirit to walk with Jesus this year. Lead me in Your will and purposes. Let Your Word find a fresh home in my heart and your hands mold this clay as You wish.
Some Christians ask the Lord the first few weeks of January to put a word on their mind and heart for the new year. They ask, Lord, give to me a word, Scripture, or idea to be a theme for me in the coming days.
2. Make plans to grow.
I try and start my year by reading some positive instructional and motivational material. Stretch yourself with some plans to read. By reading (or listening via digital audio resources) 30 minutes a day I can easily finish a book a week. Turn off the television and pick up some books! This week I chose five books to dig into this month:
The Power of Purpose by Michael Catt
A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald
On Reading Well by Karen Prior
Wilderness Wanderings by Bill Lawrence
It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst
3. Get organized.
As the decorations come down and a sense of tidiness arises, I decide afresh what in my life and family needs to be tackled organizationally. As taxes loom on the horizon, January always seems a good time to gather appropriate financial records. I loaded my Turbo Tax program on my laptop on December 29.
But, with a fresh surge of inspiration, I also ask what other areas need attention. This year I am diligently working to make sure my external hard drive backup is up-to-date. For me this includes tediously going through several saved and recovered backups from previous crashes and collecting everything I want to keep in one digital location.
This undertaking also involves deleting some of those unnecessary pictures (who really needs 30,000 pics of their family!!!) and organizing them into useful files. If I can never access them, they don’t help me.
Maybe you should work on a new system for your personal calendar, remembering birthdays of people you love, storing your addresses, planning for a family vacation, or preparing to shop in more efficient ways.
January offers a logical time to review some big-picture items from the previous year. I take some time to reconsider my journal entries from last year, asking the Holy Spirit to show me anything He wants me to remember.
You can ask questions like the following as you review: Are there recurring themes in my life from last year? What promises from God’s Word meant the most to you? What were your most meaningful moments with the Lord? What were you trusting God for last year? What was going on in your heart? What failures did you experience? Review any areas of neglect or disobedience. Did you let anything drop the Lord gave to you? Note any high or low points in your entries.
5. Set goals and move forward.
As you have done numbers 1-4, ask the Lord to help you set goals in various areas of life for 2019. Just like moving forward with a flat screen television meant I had to let go of the old set, we may have to let go of some things from 2018 – good and bad.
We didn't achieve every goal from last year. We made some poor choices. We have room to grow. But, we made progress in other areas and learned valuable lessons.
Where do I want to take my family this year? What books will we read as a family? What's a plan for leading some family devotions this year? How can I intentionally build into a meaningful relationship? What work skills do I need to add or improve? How can I better use my time?
As we learn from the past, let’s set our focus to learn new things from the Lord, trust Him today, and accomplish His purposes in our lives in this fresh year.
I’ve just started Michael Catt’s book The Power of Purpose. In the Introduction, he writes, “As long as God is on the throne, there is hope. . . . Whatever you are facing, look it in the face and look God in the face and ask Him what He wants you to learn. Wherever you are, it’s not an accident. God can take a setback and turn it into a stepping stone. . . . I believe hope and purpose are tired together. If I have a sense of purpose, I have hope. If I have hope, I have a sense of purpose. Purpose matters. . . . God didn’t place us here and wish us good luck. He didn’t make us in His image to be a victim of circumstances. He put us here to be overcomers.”
Pictures used by permission from Pixabay