Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fresh Starts . . . and New Goals

Have you recovered from the Christmas commotion? Frantic searches for gifts; festive and sometimes stressful family gatherings; frenetic attempts to finish work projects so you can enjoy time off in peace?

The last gifts are barely unwrapped and we’re already wrestling with some of mankind’s most compelling questions: How to celebrate the arrival of the New Year? How long will it take to get used to writing “2012”? How to pay the “merry Christmas” expenses?

But a greater question is what 2012 will offer: What joys, disappointments, achievements and surprises lurk at the turn of the calendar?

The sun is setting on an old year,
making room for a new one.
The ballyhooed transition from 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2011 to 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2012 is largely a global timeline convenience, but it still spawns hope and anticipation – an opportunity to start fresh, vowing to avoid past mistakes and determining to make corrections in the new year.

Columnist Craig Wilson of USA Today wrote, “The best thing about 2012 is that it is a blank slate – a year when anything can happen.... The future? A wide-open road.” 

So what will be written on your “slate”? What course will your “wide-open road” follow?

Some people make resolutions: “I resolve to (fill in the blank).” As I’ve written before, I never make resolutions. They’re easy to break, and once broken, we discard them. Instead, I set goals – tangible, measurable targets, both short-term and long-term. They may include losing a few pounds or learning something new. Or they might be to work on being healthier or more fit, or read some mind-expanding books.

As each new year starts, I maintain an annual tradition of reviewing the year past and setting specific goals for the months ahead. Goals will relate to work, relationships, finances, my physical well-being. Perhaps you’ll do the same.

But have you ever considered setting spiritual goals as well? Granted, we can’t truly gauge spiritual growth. As I see it, God is the only one that can accurately measure that. However, we can set goals that can enhance our spiritual state. Goals like spending time in the Scriptures each day, or reading a challenging, thoughtfully written devotional book. Memorizing some meaningful Bible verses. Setting aside specific time to pray each day.

Everyone’s goals must be their own, but while you’re considering the intellectual, physical and relational aspects of your life, I’d encourage you to also set a goal or two to address the spiritual facet of your life.

In Isaiah 43:18-19, God reminds us to always be looking forward, eager to see what He is going to do: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

Living in a world that seems to have more than its share of desert and wasteland, I plan to set a few spiritual goals to make sure I’m open to what God wants to show me – and teach me – during the coming year. 

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