Today marks the end of 2018.
I could start this blog post by telling you about my year and describing the hardest of times; not as what could be seen with the eye or even circumstantial factors, but as the year where I lost everything I’ve ever known to be true and the recognized the harsh reality of the superficial life I was living.
But as I don’t want to blog in detail about my own life, I can, however, tell you that today is a pretty special day.
Today marks the end of a very tough year of my life. All glory to God!
As I am on the plane now, heading back to the UAE, I am using this time to do some reflection and I’m thinking of the text in 2 Corinthians 13 verse 5 – Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
When you take a moment to reflect over the past year, and even over your entire life, you will soon come to realize that, as a Christian, you have that one big life lesson you learned out of everything. Now for all of us this lesson will differ; it could even be different from year to year.
I’ve heard people who say, “I have no regrets about my life. If I had to do it all over, I’d do it the same way again.” But that attitude is way too blinding and self-serving as far as I’m concerned. We all know that there is great power in confession; to ourselves, to God and to others. I have learned that owning up to my own failures is the first step on the road to something much, much better.
Today, as I reflect upon my life, the biggest thought I have is: “I would have done things differently”. I wish I have been a better woman of God; a more loving person, more patient, more kind and more understanding. I wish I had not worried as much about the small things in the bigger picture of eternity. I wish I had started studying the Bible sooner and that I had loved the world less.
But this past year I’ve also come to terms with the fact that God often uses our biggest flaws and weaknesses to draw us closer to Him.
The end of the year is a great time to remember why we exist, and to re-center our lives around the one great purpose. New Year’s resolutions can be an important first step to a new beginning in your life, but I also learned that it is a far cry from real, lasting change. If we really are resolved to see our hopes for 2019 become life-enriching habits, it will be good to have a few basic truths in mind at the outset of a new year.
I set down 3 priorities for my new year.
The most (and really only) important one is to know Christ more. Before I can live my life fully for Him or give Him glory in everything I do, I have to know Him first. I have to study the Bible more. Even though I am studying the Bible and moving through a Bible plan, I do believe it is important to cover the whole range of the Bible and grow more in understanding year after year. The following article is an amazing inspiration on marrying the Bible this year: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/marry-the-bible-this-year
The clarity we need to make difficult decisions today, especially as we enter another year, comes not mainly from meticulous planning or budgeting or scheduling (which I usually tend to lean towards), but from lifting our eyes up to God; knowing Him more through what He says (in His word), waiting on Him in prayer and deepening our joy in Him. As Christians, we can be assured that on the brink of a new year, we have all the reason to be full of hope and excitement for a wonderful new time that lies ahead. With God’s divine grace, we can leave 2018 in the past and know that we can make the changes in our lives that we know need to be made.
We can also rejoice in this time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God. Whatever we have to face and whatever lies in front of us, we can find peace in this:
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength, (Phil 4:13).
Today, more than ever before, I know that I am nothing without Him and that even my greatest efforts in life will fail without His strength.
When I reflect on the past year, I can see a lot of my own flaws and mistakes. But I can also see how much I’ve grown and how much I learned about life, about God. I have so many things to be thankful for and I know that every good thing in my life is from God, and that even the slightest good in me, is only because of Him.
I’m not sure what 2019 will bring or even where in the world I will find myself in a year from now. I don’t know how many mountains I will have to climb or if I will have the privilege to see my family in this new year. I don’t know what God has planned and what wonderful things are awaiting me. In this year, I don’t know how many moments will feel like summer and how many days will be filled with laughter.
But as a child of the Living God, I can start my new year with abundant joy and peace, for this I know:
The best is yet to come!
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul. . . .
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground! (Psalm 143:8, 10)