Tis the season when everyone is talking about what they plan to do in the new year. Talk shows have guests promoting new exercise programs; magazine articles tell us how to lose ten pounds quickly; weight loss companies promote their products; cooking shows highlight heart healthy and low fat recipes; and business leaders talk about performance improvement techniques. People are setting goals, making new year’s resolutions, and trying to figure out how they can become new and improved in the coming year in various areas of their lives.
But for some reason, although I certainly have goals and aspirations for 2013, I haven’t been able to really jump on the bandwagon of new year’s planning and looking ahead. I’ve been unable to embrace the mindset of “out with the old, in with the new” like I usually do, because God has had me looking backwards.
Instead of focusing on what’s to come in 2013 and the new things it may bring, my heart has been drawn to focusing on what happened in 2012, and the old things that have already come to pass. And with each memory that comes to mind, I find myself pausing to thank God for all that He has done and the privilege of seeing His activity in my life.
For my family and I, last year was one of heartaches and joys, ups and downs, good times and bad. Yet as I reflect back over the past year, I don’t see all the details, all the hardships, or all the tears. I don’t see specific situations, fun times, or memory making vacations.
What I really see……is God.
I see God’s provision, kept promises, blessing, comfort and love.
I see how He used several difficult and painful circumstances to bring my husband and I closer to each other, and closer to God. I see how God taught us how to trust Him, even when circumstances looked bleak or hopeless. I see how God provided for our physical and financial needs in miraculous and holy ordained ways. I see how God’s timing in my circumstances was perfect, although in the midst of them, I had doubted His ways and was blinded to how He was working.
I see how God knew the things that were to come that we had no clue about, and how He pre-arranged to meet needs that we didn’t know we would have.
I see how He showered me with His grace in times of need; mercy when I messed up; and blessings, that I didn’t deserve.
I could tell you lots of stories and write thousands of words about what 2012 held. I could list out all the great things that happened last year, and could easily jot down a lot of hardships and heartache we endured. Yet when I lump them all together into one big mental picture, there is one thing that shines through loud and clear.
God was there – all the time. In every circumstance, He was at work. He always had a plan. And He was always right. And He was, is, and always will be. And my heart was filled with gratitude.
This first week of January, I have been focused on thanking God for all He has done, and thanking Him in advance for all He will do this year. I have thanked Him for the good experiences I enjoyed, and the bad things that I did not enjoy yet brought me closer to Him.
As I tried to count my blessings one by one, I realized that they are infinite, and I can never praise Him enough. I want God to know that I don’t take His blessings for granted, yet I know that I do not thank Him enough, ever.
Today as I read my Jesus Calling devotion, my thoughts were summed up perfectly. Sarah Young wrote, “When you thank me for the many pleasures I provide, you affirm that I am God, from whom all blessings flow. When adversity strikes and you thank Me anyway, your trust in My sovereignty is a showpiece in invisible realms. Fill up the spare moments of your life with praise and thanksgiving. This joyous discipline will help you live in the intimacy of My Presence.”
What better new year’s goal could we possibly have than to live in the intimacy of His Presence? What an awesome thought – we could be a showpiece in invisible realms! Unfortunately, we all too often get pulled into the worldly view of planning for the new year, instead of allowing the blessings and visible evidence of God’s goodness to compel us into a state of thanking God about not only what He has done, but what He will do. We get so focused on our plans, that we forget to depend on God to make His plans for us visible.
Take a moment today to put aside your well-intended new year’s resolutions, and reflect on how you can visibly see evidence of God’s activity in your life last year. Allow His goodness to fill you with a sense of peace and calm, so that you will be spiritually prepared for whatever this year brings. Make a resolution to have your eyes wide open to see God at work, in the past and the future.
So what do you see in your spiritual rear view mirror? How can looking back help you look forward to the new year with joy? Do you “see” some things that you need to truly thank God for?
Psalm 146:1-2 Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord.I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.