January is a time for fresh starts. It’s a time to look ahead, the clean slate of a new year ahead of us, and to begin to plan what the coming year will look like. For me, I began brainstorming in December what my intentions for this coming year were. Did I want to join a gym again? Where was I called to serve? What trips did Hubby and I want to plan? What did I want to happen with my career this year? The questions went on and on as I journaled.
Then, I decided to stop and look back on my goals from the previous years. Did I meet them? Some yes, but most of the others failed miserably. So, if didn’t meet my goals, what did I do this year?
As I began to review my year, I was overwhelmed. It’s been a year of victories and losses. There have been moments where I saw God open doors I never dreamed possible. And sometimes, I stepped up to them only to have them slammed in my face as I wondered what God had been thinking. But the thing is, I needed this reminder to know that God was in my year, the highs and lows the entire time.
I needed this retrospective time analyzing where I’ve been so that I might start seeing where I’m going. I can’t plot a route to the finish line if I’m unsure where my feet are standing. My goals, they need to be rooted in who I am and where I’m coming from.
It’s logical. We would never encourage someone who rarely exercises to set a goal of running a marathon in a month. Likewise, we shouldn’t set spiritual, mental, or relationship goals that are not grounded in who we are and what God is doing in our lives.
As we begin this year with a month of looking ahead and seeing what is to come, can we stop for a moment and look back? And not just a quick glace but a genuine survey of all that God has done for us in the last year.
Because when I look and remember what God has done, it gives me courage to step forward. A clean slate is a beautiful, but terrifying thing. There is so much potential for greatness but there is also potential for great failure. When I stop and remember the highs and lows of last year, I need to remember that, even when I walked through dismally dark valleys, God never left my side. When I remember that He has always been there, weaving each detail together for my good and His glory, I can’t help but feel my heart swell with courage.
Looking back also keeps me from repeating the mistakes of the past. If I ignore them and shove them down into the past, I am libel to forget and repeat them. But when I remember the forgiveness I have in Christ and take my mistakes, not as an opportunity for condemnation, but as a chance to remember the grace I’ve been given and to grow, I am less likely to repeat the error of my ways.
But it’s not enough to just remember and then move on. I am prone to forgetfulness. I need something to help me remember over and over again each and every day of the never-ending, always steadfast, faithfulness of God. I need to tell my husband and friends what God did in my life this year. I need to write it down so I don’t forget and can recall to future generations how God has shown up in my life. I need to not fall into the trap that we as God’s people, back to Biblical times, have fallen into of forgetting the mighty works of God on our behalf.
So I’m making a few commitments this year. One of them is to journal, even if it’s just a few sentences once a week, how I’ve seen God working. The other is to set up visual reminders in my life of the big things He has done. It might be a painting or a scripture verse. Someone suggested writing a word of two on a rock and collecting a glass container of “faithfulness rocks.” I haven’t quite decided what this year is going to hold, but if looking back has shown me one thing, it is that no matter what comes, God will be faithful this year. If all else fails and I never lose the weight or reach the next step in my career but I spend this year remembering the deeds of my God and standing secure in His faithfulness, I think this year will be a success.