All things come to an end: life, seasons, a job/career, a calendar year, summer camp, a decade…and the list goes on. The end of a year can bring with it a chorus of different emotions and thoughts.
The end of every calendar year brings a time of reflection and evaluation for most people. I believe we naturally do this as humans because we are ultimately seeking answers to life’s 3 biggest questions:
“Who am I?”
“What is my purpose?”
“Where am I going?”
Did you ever notice that people tend to ask us these questions indirectly? People are always wanting to know how we are doing, what we are doing and where we are going. Depending on where we are at in life, these questions can sting when we are in between careers and relationships, what we want to be when we grow up and why we are still single.
As I reflect on the past year, wrestle with what has transpired and grapple with what the future of Monadnock holds, I have found myself really wrestling with these bigger questions of “Who I am?” “What is my purpose? and “Where am I going?” These questions are not just applicable to me as a ministry leader but more importantly as a husband and father. I feel the weight of not just answering these questions for myself but in leading many others.
The circumstances of life and the answer to these BIG questions can be extremely overwhelming and daunting. One of the biggest things that can exasperate this natural and spiritual process of reflection and evaluation is our busyness and hurriedness.
Why do I share these things with you? My fear for all of us is that if we don’t take the time, we will ultimately miss the blessing that God has in store for us and for those God has called us to love and serve. It’s at the heart of what we find in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” You will see throughout the Old and New Testaments, and specifically Jesus’ teachings, that there is an emphasis on “looking forward.” The Lord guided, encouraged, inspired, pushed, pulled, challenged, humbled those he was calling to something greater than themselves, in order to fulfill his ultimate kingdom purposes.
Why do so many falter in taking possession of the things Christ has called them to? The book of Hebrews reminds us that those who have gone before us, the heroes of our faith, (Hebrews 11) had a faith we need to emulate. What kind of faith did they have? They had a faith described as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Would your faith be described as “the substance of things hoped for…”
To be very candid with you…I am tired of telling others or even myself, “This has been a challenging year and hoping this next year is better.” I keep thinking, “it cant get any worse” and then each year seems to get harder and more challenging.
Ann Voskamp writes in her advent book, The Greatest Gift, “You can stand around a Christmas tree with a family tree like Joseph’s, with cheaters and beaters and deceivers, with a family like Jacob’s, who ran away and ran around and ran folks down. But out of a family line that looks like a mess, God brings the Messiah. What was intended to harm, God intended all of it for good, and no matter what intends to harm you, God’s arms have you. You can never be undone. No matter what intends to harm you . . . God is never absent, never impotent, never distant. You can never be undone.” If this is true, which I believe it is, means that regardless of our past or future, blessings or challenges, joy or grief, peace or anxiety; in Christ, we truly can do all things in Him. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1–4)
As we look forward to the coming year, The Greatest Opportunity for you and for me, is how do we make known to others the hope we have found in Jesus Christ. When we see those around us struggling with the 3 big questions of life, can we point them to the author and answerer of those 3 questions? How can we allow Christ to take all of the circumstances of our lives and use them not just to strengthen our faith, but for others to see faith played out and to experience the hope and joy of knowing Christ on a deeper level.”