Each year holds the hope and promise of a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to once again look with expectation and say, “What Will the Year Behold?”
Like the Christmas story that was celebrated just a little over a week ago, an angelic host seems to proclaim to us “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.” And so we peer into the new year holding fast to the promise of that joy, of God’s blessings, of His purpose being fulfilled in our lives in ways that we never imagined.
For me, 2016 has already blown my mind because just this morning, I flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Ghana, West Africa. This from a girl who used to be so frightened to fly that she’d have a panic attack if an airplane flew over her head. And here I am, not only flying, but going to a place I never dreamed I’d go, and doing things I never imagined myself doing.
That is what a difference a year can make. Not so much the passage of time, but the chance to start afresh, to reevaluate, to reflect on what was, and make adjustments where needed. Because it is in the reflecting and refocusing that we really are able to measure ourselves, and hear what the Lord may be saying to us.
For several years now, at the end of the year, I take an extended time away with God to listen and to review my journals to see what themes may become evident. Themes like, complaining too much, prayers that were answered that I didn’t realize I’d prayed about, issues with myself or someone else that keeps cycling. This awareness helps me to see my strengths and weaknesses more clearly. Which naturally turns my spirit to repentance and then rejoicing. Repenting for where my weaknesses are and were, and rejoicing for any perceived strength I have knowing full well that it came from God. I have found that lingering, and not rushing through this type of prayer is paramount. Otherwise, it just becomes more of a rote confession, than anything else. In order for true heart change to occur, there must be deep soul searching and a willingness to allow the probing of the Holy Spirit.
Once I feel that I’ve reflectively heard from God, then I start asking God about where He wants my focus to be.
Refocused prayer time requires a lot of listening and waiting. It is not about my telling God where I want my focus to be, but rather it is about my waiting on God to impress upon me where He wants me to put my time and energy in the coming year. I think all too often we come before God and do a lot of talking, and not as much listening. Try it. Spend an hour or two with God just listening… and see what He might tell you what the year will behold for you!