With one exception, my New Year’s Resolutions are always somewhat worthless and broken after the first few weeks in January. For those reasons, I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions.
Still, as each December 31 approaches, I find myself looking in both directions – forward and backwards – as I reflect on what was and ponder what might be.
I was doing the same type of reflecting this year when I read a fellow blogger’s post (Edie Melson – The Write Conversation) and was challenged to reflect on and evaluate something specific. I decided to take her suggestion to reflect on spiritual markers and evaluate the progress made during the past 365 days.
That introspection could have become my demise if I allowed the mistakes made over the past year to overshadow the positives. Yet, I recognize that I am nowhere near perfect, nor will I ever be this side of Heaven, so mistakes will occur.
Squashing the distracting negative thoughts, I focused on the positives, and one specific marker that surfaced often throughout 2015.
During the past year, our family’s faith was stretched immeasurably through a move and new beginnings. As we walked the path laid before us, we were continually challenged to stay the course. This past year of changes has not been easy, but following God’s plan has been rewarding. And, because growing in Christ is a life long process, more work lies ahead for us in this area.
A second challenge from Edie’s post also captured my attention and required additional thought. Proclaim one word and a verse for the next 365 days. Instead of a resolution, the word and verse are more like an outlook for 2016.
While mulling over an array of personal events, I also reflected on a smattering of events affecting many friends. A handful of significant incidences helped me chose my word for 2016.
As I typed that word I thought about dear friends in Texas who lost their homes and church sanctuary in the December 26 tornado. I’ve seen photos of the destruction, and the amount of devastation leaves me speechless. That tornado splintered lives and invoked shock as the twirling winds crumbled walls, tossed bricks, and smashed vehicles.
Ironically, symbols of hope rose from the ashes. One symbol was the dove of peace in a stained glass church window. The glass surrounding the dove was pelted with holes, but the dove itself remained whole. In one friend’s house, coffee cups lined a counter, and a clothes rack remained intact with clothes still hung in rows. Yet nearby, collapsed walls and shredded insulation encircled the once tranquil space. In a matter of moments, when lives changed forever, a community emerged and stood tall.
As I received updates from my friends, my spirit was blessed by their constant encouraging words and stories of God working through these dark days of recovery. Their persistence to remain faithful to God and to see His hand at work in the midst of tragedy is yet another challenge to remain STEADFAST in my own walk with Christ.
With my word selected for 2016, my thoughts turned towards a verse. Out of all the Bible verses written, what could I possibly choose as a signature verse for 2016?
Tests of faith seemed to be the theme for 2015, and the events mentioned above reminded me of God’s grace. My Bible concordance listed multiple passages depicting God’s grace, but when I read Acts 11:23 ESV, I knew that was the verse for 2016. “When he [Barnabas] came [to Antioch] and saw the grace of God, he was glad and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.”
For every spiritual milestone I count, there are just as many areas where change needs to occur. As I stated earlier, following Christ is a life long journey, and throughout the relationship, there’s much to learn and plenty of room to grow. And believe me when I say that I recognize there’s lots of room for growth in my own life.
But when days don’t end as expected, struggles arise, tempers flare, and the enemy hurls daggers reminding me of all my shortcomings, I want to remember Barnabas’s encouragement to fellow believers to “remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.”
It’s your turn. Will you choose a word for 2016? If so, what did you choose? Is there a particular verse you would like to claim as your verse for the next year? I’d love for you to add to the conversation.
Photo is compliments of morguefile.com