The Best Way to Start a New Year…
…Is to look back before you look forward. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. But we are men and women on a journey with God. We aren’t starting at zero, or at the beginning. We are somewhere in the middle, with a story that has been and is being written; a story that we get to craft right now.
I tend to start with my destination – or at least what I think should be my destination. But as the story behind me becomes longer, more developed, and with some clear plot lines, I need to take note of where I have been in order to get a clearer look at where God and I want to take me.
I said “God and I” because we both have a voice. We both have influence. We both want what is best for me, though I do believe He sees that more clearly than do I.
And I say “God and I” recognizing that He is weaving together a larger story simultaneously with my own smaller story. It is a story about heart changes and relational shifts, not about tasks accomplished or goals hit.
So in order to catch a glimpse of that story, I think I need to look back and ponder what has been most meaningful this past year. Where have I grown? What relationships have been most meaningful? What do I regret? Where do I see God working, in my life, in my family, in my friends, at work, at church? Remember Henry Blackaby’s great statement from Experiencing God – “What is best is to find where God is already working and go join in.” That is true in my life. He is working. Can I see those places and join in?
So here is my recommendation… Before you set your New Year’s resolutions or goals, sit and ponder last year. What happened that was meaningful? What mattered? What changed? What makes you smile and what makes you cry? What hopes get stirred as you talk about last year?
I encourage you to do it with someone close, who shared all or part of the year with you. They will see things, remember things, ask questions, make observations that you won’t. And in all of it, look for God. In the dramatic, the big events, look for God. In the mundane and the same old, look for God. Value the things that didn’t change that were good. Note the things that God did and give thanks.
For me, and for my wife Lynne as we talked last week, we found real hope for the future by taking note of the good things from the past year. When we pondered, we could see God working – in our own lives and in the lives of those whom we love. And it gave us perspective for the future.
So I hope you will take a little time with someone and with your calendar and reflect on last year. Trust me. God was up to something! ☺
Palmer Trice is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He is married to Lynne, has three children and has been in Charlotte since 1979. In his spare time, Palmer enjoys golf, tennis, walking and reading.