January is a time for new beginnings. It marks the start of a calendar year and, in many of our minds, the start of something better in terms of our own self-determination. However, Christians have the hope of something far stronger than self-discipline and self-determined resolutions shining strongly on all our efforts and plans. We have the power of the Holy Spirit and the leading of the same to help us chart a new year. If a new course is needed, He will be at the helm, shaping and fashioning our days as we live under His leadership and control. If we are to stay on the same course, He will strengthen our resolve and help us remain faithful to the objectives He has outlined.
Life outside Christ makes a day planner, be it electronic or paper, look a bit different than it does for those of us who are in Him. For the unbeliever, beginning a new year may feel, at first, somewhat hopeful—365 days of promise. However, the moment a career shift is forced on them, a health crisis throws a wrench into their goals, or the dull days of February, rife with rain, snow, cold, or sludge, slice into their joy of living, the life-force goes right out of the best-laid plans. The unbeliever is left wandering and wondering. It’s a joyless existence and often means another year of worthless meanderings on this planet. They may think they know what is best to do, what might fulfill them. Ultimately, however, only a relationship with the God who created them will fill the aching void no cleverly crafted and fully executed set of New Year’s resolutions could ever begin to fill.
A Christian not focused on the Lord can find himself or herself in a similar place. When we fail to harness our thoughts, making them obedient to the truth of the scripture, we begin to lose focus. Those who lose focus lose heart. If we are not surrounded by the right group of believers, we can even lose our way for a bit. This is not our holy birthright! We CAN, and should, be purposeful and fruitful. If we fail to be, there is something we have yet to hear from the Lord that He longs to communicate. There is something He has told us to do that we are not doing. A barrenness or emptiness in the heart and life of a believer indicates that somewhere in our lives, there is something we have not submitted to Christ. When we are fully submitted to Him, our lives are full, and we are satisfied in Him! Psalm 1:3 (KJV) says we will be “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
What does the calendar of a committed believer look like? Time is allotted to earning a living, if necessary. Time is allotted to service to God and others (often one and the same). Time is carved out to enjoy the gifts and talents God has showered on them, regardless of whether or not they are paid to do so. Made in the image of God, people are happiest when they are productive. This is an indisputable fact. But industry without insight is like grinding wheels in the sand. That’s why we need the Word of God and the over-arching wisdom of the Holy Spirit, who knows everything about our lives from beginning to end. God knows us intimately, and He knows what we should be doing at all times in order to carry out the wonderfully unique plan He has for every single one of our lives. His Word says in Ephesians 2:10 (KJV): “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
If you have spent some time in the wilderness, casting about for direction or even wasting time on fleshly passions and pleasures, your story is not over. Where there is life, there is hope. God will never, ever give up on you, no matter how many resolutions you have abandoned. The wasted years are instantly forgiven at the foot of the cross of Calvary, where Jesus died to forgive every sin you have ever or will ever commit. He loves you and has a plan “B” for every plan “A” you feel you have ruined. He can make much of very little. There is always and forever hope in Him. So, trust your 2024 to the Creator of the stars. He will show you a wonderful time as you abandon your year and yourself to Him!
[As adapted from The Bondage Breaker and Stomping Out The Darkness by Dr. Neil Anderson and Dr. Dave Park.]