I love looking back on a year about to close. I love reflecting on the joys, knowing that the sorrows of the year are behind me (phew!) and praising God for all that He has done through it all. Some years I am relieved to say goodbye to and others I wish would linger a little longer. Like this year for instance…I like to refer to it as “the year of Jake”. We started the year announcing a new life that would be joining our family, God taught us a lot as we once again saw His faithfulness through a pregnancy scare, we welcomed Jake in the middle of the year, and after enjoying all those baby snuggles we ended the year by celebrating Jake’s first Christmas. While there definitely were ups and downs and I am hoping for a little more sleep in 2015, it doesn’t get much better than that. Praise God for a year full of so much life and joy!
Now it is time to look ahead. Honestly, I always kind of dread the start of a new year. All around me there is excitement and talk of fresh starts, resolutions, new goals, a hope-filled word, or dreaming big in the year ahead. But January and February tend to be months that I struggle through. It’s nothing horrible, just a lot of trudging through hard memories and grief that creep back in with the turn of the calendar year. The calendar finally turns to March, I make it through another birthday without my daughter, I see glimpses of Spring ahead, and I feel like I can breathe a little easier again. It’s so hard to explain. And I won’t try. I know there are some of you who will be experiencing new life and great joy in this new year and I am praising God along with you. But others of you are facing this new year dealing with a miscarriage and grieving the little life that should have been, or learning how to do life and move forward without someone you love and miss like crazy, or getting a diagnosis that is threatening to rock your world, or just pulling a lot of hurt and disappointment along with you from the year we just closed. My heart has been aching for you. It only takes a minute to look around and see that this year, this year of new beginnings, is already full of heartache for so many. And while I am not trying to put a downer on the newness that January brings I am reminded that there is so much uncertainty in this world. Thankfully we don’t have to dwell in that uncertainty or fear as we wonder what this new year will hold.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4
I love the verse in John because while it acknowledges the very real pain that most of us will face, that is not the end…praise God! Take heart! There is Someone who has overcome the world for us. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and pain and death. We can look forward with anticipation because true hope and peace lie ahead because of Jesus. And while this year might be full of uncertainties this verse reminds me of an unchanging God who has overcome the world. Not a God that might overcome the world but a God who HAS overcome the world. Change is hard. Uncertainty is hard. But I am so thankful that I can sink my feet firm and secure in my unchanging God. The Rock eternal. True peace in this crazy world is found in Him alone.
I am right there with you setting goals and longing for growth as we start fresh, but I don’t want to try to “define” what this year is going to look like for me. Instead I want to dig deep into knowing the God who made me and knows me and seek to work alongside Him in His plans for my life. I want a steadfast mind that trusts in the Lord. More important that eating better, or learning a new skill, or whatever else…my first goal is to be in God’s Word daily, getting to know my Savior a little better this year. Finding my worth and security and peace in Him, not in what I can accomplish on my own. Allowing Him to guide me in the decisions and plans I make. And standing firm on the Rock when the troubles of this world threaten to knock me down.
Do you want to commit to dig deeper into God’s Word this year? I put together a little list of a few ways to do just that:
1. If you have been reading this blog very long you know my love for Bible Study Fellowship I have learned so much about how to study God’s Word from BSF. And my kids love it too! Their children’s program is fantastic. I can’t think of anything better than learning God’s Word alongside my kids. I know that my BSF group is taking new people in January. So, if you are looking for a Bible Study to start in the New Year check out the website to find a BSF near you and get started! We start up again on Wednesday…which reminds me that I am behind on my lesson!
2. There are some great Bible reading plans out there. I like the ones from The Navigators. How about reading through the Bible or reading through the New Testament this year? Check out the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan, Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan, or the 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan. I noticed that most of these plans are available on the Bible app which makes it really easy to keep track of your reading each day.
3. Speaking of reading through the Bible…remember the She Reads Truth Advent study I talked about last month? Well, She Reads Truth has come out with their own read through the Bible in a year plan. The Bible in a Year is free on the She Reads Truth app and you can keep track of your reading right on your phone. She Reads Truth also has other studies available to purchase for $1.99 if you are wanting to focus on studying one book of the Bible at a time. I have only done the Advent study but they all look so good!
4. If you are looking for a study to do on your own or maybe with a Bible study group I love the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series by Nancy Guthrie. This series does such a great job of showing you God’s plan from the beginning, woven all throughout the pages of Scripture. I have done the first two studies and was so thankful how they helped me move from seeing the Old Testament as a bunch of Sunday School stories to seeing that even the Old Testament is all about Jesus and God’s great rescue plan that started from the very beginning.
5. Do you think this all sounds great but you really don’t know where to start with reading your Bible or having a daily quiet time? I’ve been there too. Women of the Word and A Place of Quiet Rest have both been really helpful in guiding my quiet time and learning how to dig deep into God’s Word. I highly recommend them both!
Now, ideally I would have posted this before January 1…but obviously that didn’t happen. The good news is that it is never too late to commit to being in the Word. Start now!
And please tell me…how do you plan to go deeper in God’s Word this year?