Walking through the final days of last year, I felt somewhat grateful. I did not revel in the gladness of seeing a bad year come to an end (though there have been years like that). For me, it had been a satisfying year in accomplishing what I’d set out to complete from the previous year’s resolutions, and I felt quite happy with it. Perhaps I should now take a year off…think again!
My yearly planner is already healthily filled out like a well-planned menu, and I am determined to hit the ground running to see these things come to pass. However, I know these plans will require a lot of hard work and action but, no matter how much I prepare, when I look back at the end of the year, I know I will see God’s unmistakable guidance and weaving stamped all over it, which, gratefully, will make my current pencilled-in plans look very amateur in the grander scheme of things.
‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.’ (Proverbs chapter 19 verse 21)
Power in the present
Despite how successful or unsuccessful our pasts have been, whether relational, financial, or whatever they may be—the past will always be our past and has no power for the present unless we allow it to. The stories and experiences we take with us can either propel us, positively influence us and give us wisdom for the future; or they will hold us down, hold us back and cause us to be stuck in a place we can’t get out of. It is up to us what we choose to take with us on the journey ahead. Wisdom comes in knowing which parts of our past are freeing and empowering, and which are those that take us captive.
We may automatically refer to negative experiences as being what we should leave behind, and rightly so in many circumstances. Though often, some negative past experiences can give us the drive and motivation we need to make improvements for the future.
Surprisingly, however, sometimes our past triumphs and successes can also hold us back from moving forward. For instance, my second book was published last year. This was a wonderful accomplishment and completion of a lot of hard work and persistence. I could be tempted to now curl up and enjoy that accomplishment for the rest of my life—or not.
Everything within me wants to keep moving. It was great to have the book published, but the completion of publishing meant only the beginning of bringing awareness that the book exists, otherwise it would all have been a waste. Unless people read a book, there is no use for publishing it.
Now is not the time to sleep
Our experiences have the power to either hold us back in a state of ‘reminiscence’, or project us into the future to bigger and better things. Our experiences ultimately determine the outcome of our character; whom we become if we choose to focus our attention on the future. What we can accomplish in the future and how we can better ourselves for the future is up to the way we process the past and allow God to use it for our good.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11)
God doesn’t want us to fall asleep. The work at hand is now. Future thinking, or forward thinking, is what we need to be focusing on. Not the lives we lived yesterday, but the days we will live in the future and how we develop ourselves and our character further to be better and brighter people.
As we enter a new year, and in this case, the beginning of a new decade, is our perspective one of embracing new opportunities that lay before us? Or are we so entrenched in our past successes and failures that we dare not move on?
Jesus wants more for us
When Jesus was on the earth, he did amazing things. He healed, revealed truth, and brought salvation to a dying world, fulfilling many prophecies and opening the way for future generations. He did so many things that the Bible tells us: if each were written down, there would not be enough room in the world for all the books that would be written! (John chapter 21 verse 25)
But when he died on the cross, it was not the end; it was the beginning. He told the disciples, in John chapter 14 verse 12, that they would go on to do even greater things than he, through the power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus healed people, he wanted them to use their healed, working, able bodies to do things—things to help others—otherwise the healing would be a waste.
When God gives us a new year, even a new day, He wants us to use our time on earth to carry His presence, to be a blessing, and to bring people closer to Him through the gifts He has given us, and He has promised to be with us and help us every step of the way.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew chapter 28 verses19-20)
God likes to put his stamp on our life
As we reflect on and gather the memories of the collection of experiences that we have had in our lives, let’s put them to good use. Let’s make a new resolution to use the good and bad for a brighter future. Let’s use our bodies and minds to do great things, to be useful and to be a blessing to others by ‘enlarging our tents’, expanding our reach, growing in strength, and carrying the Word of God to the ends of the earth.
God has great things in store for us and in His strength, we can, with willing hearts, be His vessel to accomplish much in His name.
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah chapter 54 verses 2-5)
©Rebecca Moore 2020