I realize that I'm a little late for my New Year's post. Well, only 2 days late, but I have a good excuse... dial-up internet. At the end of the year, I typically like to look back over the past year and reflect. I reflect on blessings, trails, memorable moments, achievements, things I did, things I could have done differently, lessons learned, and ways God has worked in my life. As I think about things, I'm always in awe of how great and good God is to me throughout the year. Without I doubt at the end of every year, I am humbled and extremely thankful that God allowed me another year to live on this earth, despite the fact that I fail Him so often. If you read that last sentence and think I'm just trying to sound like super-Christian, then that's okay... but I'm not... I meant every word from the bottom of my heart. Honestly, none of us deserves one single second on this earth, and yet God gives us days, months, and years beyond that. He is merciful!
Then I think about what the coming new year may hold. Perhaps a new job :). Maybe a trip somewhere. More time spent with family. New educational goals. Renovations on my house. Maybe a new car :). I'm a planner, and I have lots of plans. I sometimes joke around about my 2 year, 5 year, and 10 year plans. I've got them! Now that I've lived in my current home almost 5 years, I can say I've accomplished some of my 5 year plans, but not all of them! God has a way of derailing our (my!) plans a lot of times.
This year I have been rather uninspired to do the whole looking back over the year and see what I can learn from it thing. Not that 2010 was an uneventful year! Not at all!!!!! It was probably the most life-changing year I've experienced so far in my 28 years on the earth. But for some reason I've not wanted to go back and reflect on it. I was trying to the other day, and getting nowhere when God gave me a verse. Paul said in Philippians 3:13... Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before... I thought, maybe that's why I'm having trouble going back over the last year. Maybe God wants me to forget the things which are behind. Now I don't mean forget in a sense that I won't ever remember them. Again 2010 was probably one of the most memorable years of my life, if not THE most memorable! Some things you just don't forget! What Paul is saying in this verse is that he's not going to dwell on the past to the point that he looses his focus for what's really important. He's not going to let past failures, mistakes, trials, and heartaches be a hinderance to his Christian walk. Instead he was going to look to the future and in that future he was going to ... press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
Last year is one of those years that I believe could become something that hinders my pressing forward. It's was a year filled with situations and decisions that I could analyze and re-analyze, and obsess over whether or not I did the right thing or the wrong thing or if I could have done things differently. It was a year of great change. It was a year of great growth and victory spiritually. Sometimes when we have a spiritual victory we just stop at it. We feel like we have "arrived" because we gained a victory over a certain battle, never realizing that another battle is on the horizon. Without crossing the next hill, we won't ever ever gain the next victory.
I am thankful for last year. God taught me much. He taught me lessons I will never forget. His Word was a lamp to my feet and a light to my path and guided me all the way. Last year was a year I believe that I surrendered more decisions to God's will than I ever have before. Like I said, I'm used to making my plans, but 2010 was a year of God's plans. Some of them were amazing, and I rejoiced. Some of them were heartbreaking, I fought them, but I surrendered, and I still tried to rejoice... I Thessalonians 5:16. All were filled with blessings. Yes, even the heartbreaking ones because God promises to bless those consecrated to Him... Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD... that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day (Ex. 32:29). I just had to look a little harder for the blessings in the difficulties. The truth is I'm not even sure what the blessing was supposed to be in some situations, but I know that there was blessings. Perhaps they won't be revealed to me until a later time. Perhaps they will never be revealed to me on earth. It doesn't really matter, because the fact is that following God's will brings no regrets, and that in itself is a blessing.
Do I have regrets about 2010? Most definitely. I regret that my own stubbornness got the best of me many times. I regret the times that I was not kind and gracious when I should have been. I regret the times I didn't read my Bible. I regret the times I prayed with the wrong spirit or simply didn't pray at all. I regret the times I may have stepped outside of what God wanted for me. I regret that I didn't do more for Christ. I regret that I didn't share the gospel with more people. I regret the fact that my pride got in the way of God's working. I regret that I didn't always give a soft answer (Pro. 15:1). I regret the times my attitude was full of selfishness, self-will, and pride. I do not regret trying to surrender every aspect of my life to the will of God. I do not regret giving Him control of my life. I often fail in this respect, but by God's grace I will continue to rest and lean on Him... in all thy ways acknowledge him... (Pro. 3:6).
Last year was last year. It's over, done, can't be changed. 2011 is a new year filled with opportunity to improve, surrender, sacrifice, learn, serve, and live for Christ. As Paul said in Philippians 3:13, I don't want my past to become a hinderance to my future. I want to learn from the past, and continue to apply what I've learned in the future. I'm sure 2011 will bring more trials, more decisions, more opportunities, and hopefully more spiritual victories. Even though last year was a year of great spiritual growth in my life, I never want that to stop. I never want to loose my passion for the Word of God. I never want to loose my desire to learn more about God. I never want to get to the point where I think I've "arrived." I always want to be pressing towards that mark, so that someday I can echo these words of the apostle Paul. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (II Tim 4:7).