With a new year comes fresh starts. Sometimes, it means setting resolutions or goals for yourself. To others, it means looking to a Word of the Year. Still, to some it just means another year down, another to go. It’s something different for everyone.
Usually, I figure out a word of the year. While I haven’t figured out what my word is, I do feel there is a shift in the air for me in 2023. It’s been subtle, sneaking up on me. Today, I feel like it’s practically attacking!
For many of us, change can be scary. It can be alarming. We’re comfortable with the norm and we don’t need to see something new. It can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, the subtle changes or dramatic beginnings often bring with it a fresh perspective and a new outlook.
For those who find what’s to come in the new year challenging or frightening, let me give you two verses that I’ve been reciting to myself these last couple of days.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” –Psalm 56:3 (KJV)
I don’t quite know what 2023 holds for me yet. I know there’s new circumstances that I’ll be navigating. God assures me, though, that He can be trusted as I walk through it. I’m certain that through Him, I can navigate 2023 with grace and understanding and with a steady walk because He walks it with me.
Praise the Lord for a God who already knows what next year holds!
Friends, are you excited or nervous about something that is going to happen in 2023? Share with us in the comments!
In recent years it’s become trendy to assume a word that you will use to focus on during the coming year. A modified New Year’s Resolution, if you will.
Choose the word travel…and then plan more trips, read travel books, and travel more.
Adopt the word grace…and then practice extending grace to yourself and others.
Pick the word change…and then make the changes in your life you are striving towards.
It’s not a trend I’ve followed for myself, although I have seen it work well for some of my friends. Those who know me best, know that I’m very goal oriented and find great joy in accomplishing new adventures. So frankly…I struggle with selecting just one word for the New Year. I want masses of words that I can form together for tangible accomplishments.
Except now I find myself praying about making an exception. In the next year, I want to focus on the word “Word.” As in God’s Word. I want to really concentrate on daily Bible Study, on memorization techniques, and on having His Word dwell in my heart.
Psalm 119:9-16 tells us that keeping God close to our hearts, spirit, and mind requires keeping our eyes on Jesus so that we can dwell in the presence of the Lord. In order to keep those eyes focused on the goal, I need to be in the Word.
What are the benefits of being in God’s Word?
–Strengthened walk with Jesus
–Forgiveness for sin & actively seeking to repent
–Guarding against the enemy
–Understanding of context and God’s intent
–Sustainment against the stress of life
That’s a lot of words and it’s not even a dent in the reasons why we should want to be more fervently studying the Bible. Even now, as I attempt to focus on one word…”Word”…I’m unable. I start finding all the words that support being more active in the Word.
I’m back at square one. Not picking a singular word for the year, but rather praying that I can focus on the Word.
Whether you pick one word or draft a lengthy goal, my prayer for you, sweet reader, is that you will find the study of the Bible included in the next year.
I can’t remember any time that I’ve created a New Year’s Resolution. I’ve never seen value in financial or weight loss promises on January 1st…I know myself well enough that a resolution would not work well for me. However, I’ve always set new goals for the beginning of each year. When I was child, the goals were more simplistic, such as not being mean to my brother or being more helpful to my parents. Those weren’t tangible or measurable goals, so it would have been nearly impossible to determine if they were attained. As I got older, making the soccer team or getting particular grades became more measurable goals.
In adulthood, my goals have been fanciful. For instance, one year I made it a goal to say “bless you” to anyone who I heard sneeze…even if they weren’t close enough to hear me. Another year I had the goal to buy myself fresh flowers weekly, while years before that I went on a “no spending full price on clothes” for a full year. There was even one year that I made the goal to travel to a new location every month (that was a tad easier because I was already stationed in Europe).
The secret to effective goal setting is to make mini-goals, also known as objectives. It gives you milestones to check and re-evaluate how close you are to attaining the goals you have set.
Scripture is clear that goal-setting is not only desirable, but that God encourages us to practice growing through goal setting. Proverbs 21:5 (ESV) states, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
Hence, a Biblical example of us needing to create plans to lead to better things. It’s important to remember that we have to put in some hard work to attain these goals. God’s will allows us to attain or fail to attain goals, but nothing happens at all if we don’t strive towards the objective.
It’s equally important to remember that our best planning is not a guarantee that we will achieve those goals. In James 4:13-15, James reminds us that we do not know what tomorrow will bring and that we should continue to lean into the Lord’s will for our lives.
We must set the goals. We must work hard towards the goals. We must recognize that God’s possible change of our plans are because His thoughts for our lives are so much bigger (and better) than our own…see Matthew 6:33-34.
Ultimately, God’s purpose for each of us will prevail. In Proverbs 19:21, we are reminded that “Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord will stand.”
So what the heck is the bottom line for our lives in 2022? Set the goals, make them attainable and measurable, and then submit those goals to God for His blessing and intervention on the purpose He has for your life. Be intentional, but also know you have to be flexible to the changes God has in store.
It’s a new year…time to set some new goals.
P.S. I have two goals for 2022:
1. Read the entire Bible (I’m using a one-year reading plan that has me reading four chapters a day between the Old Testament and New Testament with a one day break each month).
2. Complete a 52-hike challenge throughout the year (the hikes can be back-to-back or once a week, at least two miles-but no upper limit to length, not on asphalt/gravel, can repeat trails, any friend/hiking partner/group can join me on any given trail, and the hikes can be anywhere in the world).
A new year brings new resolutions, new promises, and occasionally new dreams.
When I was a small child, I dreamt of being an FBI agent. My current role as a curator at a military museum could not be further from that childhood dream. Clearly, not a dream come true.
My husband has always dreamt of being a fishing guide and/or having a fly shop where he could pass along his love of being an angler. With the addition of a new boat in 2019, he’s begun the work of establishing a business including fish guiding and teaching classes on fishing. Dreams are beginning to come true.
There is a sense of bittersweetness when you look at dreams that have or have not come true. You can see where God’s plans were better than your own. And you begin to see how God’s timing is better than your own.
Are your dreams as big as God? What do you want for your life that you think is too outrageous?!?!? Because guess what? Nothing is too outrageous for God…He’s plans are already in the works for a dream bigger than you already dream.
Do you want to adopt a child? Start a ministry? Finish a degree? Run a marathon? (I’m not gonna lie, I’m not sure I understand why anyone “wants” to run)
It’s easy to say that you believe God is big enough to fulfill your dreams…it’s harder to actually believe that.
How can you tell if your dreams match God’s desires for you? How do you know you are dreaming “big enough”?
Christ’s Great Commission charges us with an incredible purpose: “Make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Beyond any of our wildest dreams, we are given a purpose to make disciples…in our homes, in our churches, and in our world.
In whatever manner you seek opportunities to disciple others, the Great Commission should partner with your big dreams. This is God’s desire for your life. Filter all you do through the Great Commission.
You dream of adopting a child? Find a Christian agency and become involved with how discipleship occurs internationally.
You want to start a ministry? Start researching, start investing, start studying…and watch how God will give you opportunities to execute the Great Commission.
You’re dreaming of finish a degree? Stop making excuses! Register for the classes, do the hard work of balancing life and school. Graduate. And then watch God open doors with that degree in a manner you never imagined!
You desire to run a marathon? Train, practice, run…and sign up for a marathon. Then watch as God presents opportunities to speak about Him to others who also “want” to run.
Your dreams “so big” when matched with God’s purpose for your life, will be fulfilled. Typically, you’ll see those dreams come to fruition in a manner way larger than you ever imagined.
Here’s to 2020…where we need to dream big and watch God work!!!