By: Kate Van der Hoeven
Christmas is over. The most anticipated holiday of the year is completed. In just a week we will be in a new decade! As you reflect on the past year, what do you see? Joy? Sorrow? Adventures? Quiet? Growth? Change? Are you ready for the new year and all that it holds?
As I reflect on my own year and all the adventures that have come and gone, I am amazed at what God has done in my life. I started the year as an eager, over-confident store manager for my local agritourism farm. With the changing seasons, I realized my inability to lead a group of people well. Week by week I had to be humbled and taught what it meant to be a kind, godly leader. I am so grateful for that experience and for the ways God used people and experiences to teach me how to be a better leader by being a better servant.
In the midst of learning the world of management, God turned my world upside down by placing an amazing, godly man in my life. After just six months, I find myself engaged and planning a wedding for the year 2020! If you had asked me a year ago where I saw myself in a year, I would have painted a very different picture from my current reality. I am guessing most of us could say the same.
The fact that my life looks so much different from my plans has both encouraged me and made me fearful. I am encouraged because I have seen how God has grown me. He has shown that He is a living and powerful force in my heart, using me to change and encourage the hearts of others. But I am also fearful because the lack of faith in my heart tells me that this coming year holds changes and adventures I am hardly capable of withstanding alone. 2020 could possibly be the biggest year of change in my whole life and I’m nervous.
So, if you are like me, anticipating an exciting new year with a lot of planned and unplanned changes, struggles, sorrow, growth, and joy, what are some good ways we can prepare ourselves?
- Take intentional time to remember what the LORD has done for you this past year
We’ve been busy with the Christmas holiday season; parties, family coming and going, and just the hustle and bustle of the season. During this last week of the year, I would encourage you to go back through your mind, your journals, your Quiet Time Companions, – whatever you have to remember the past – and intentionally recall what the Lord has brought you through this year.
As I flip through the pages that make up my past year, it flows with stories of God’s faithfulness. Oftentimes, I didn’t even realize God had brought me through a trial in such a way until I see the whole story all together. Forgotten encouraging truths jump out at me, and I am overwhelmed with a peace and comfort that the LORD was truly with me through every step of the year’s journey.
The more time you take to remember what God has done for you, the more strength you will have for all the known and unknown changes to come.
- Rather than just making resolutions for a new year, pray about the ways you want to change and the person you want to be.
None of us know what is coming in the new year. We write down our resolutions of how we want to change, but when the weeks turn into months and life is simply life, it is easy to forget why we wanted to make those big changes. Life can also throw us curve-balls to make those resolutions impossible. If you are a new year’s resolution writer, I would encourage you to pray over those resolutions and focus most on praying that God would use whatever circumstances come your way to make you a better tool for his use. We cannot change apart from Christ. Christ is the one who will take us through any trial or joy and make us a better person more fit for his kingdom.
- Make daily quiet time a commitment for your new year
Whether you are a new Christian or a longtime follower of Christ, I would encourage us all to fight for our quiet time this year. Fight to make God a priority. Fight to make your relationship with Him grow this year. Fight to know Him more. We can only face joyfully what is to come in our new year if we have God close by us to help us see the joys and the trials through the lens of what Christ has already done for us. We can only see through the lens of Christ if we are daily seeking Him and His guidance. Time with the Lord in His word, is never ever wasted.
We often fear the future or question what God has planned for us. We will question choices once we make them, we will find sins in the cracks and crevices of our souls that need to be cleaned out, and we will fight doubt when pain comes. But Jesus is there. He is there in our new year and He knows our future. He is ready to hold our hand, to guide us, to love us more than anyone else can. We need not fear. Every new day is an adventure; a wonder. We must simply seek to stay close to him and say “I trust you. Take me where you will.”
Kate is kid number 7 of 10 in her family, and her life has never had a dull moment! Growing up in a homeschooling, Christian home in Kentucky, Kate was raised to love God and His Word. She currently works at a local orchard, and fills her time with reading, archery, and piano playing. It is her firm belief that we never stop growing to be more like Jesus as we actively pursue Him.