New Year; Same Me

Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom there lived a lovely maiden with flaxen hair. She lived in the topmost tower of her parents’ castle, and she spent every day singing to herself about the day her knight might appear . . .

Okay, okay. The simple fact of the matter is that while i might sometimes think i was born in the wrong century, God has placed me here–at age 26–as the year transitions from 2018 to 2019. If i was born in thirteenth-century Germany, i probably would have perished in a bloody battle not knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior. God is good. As such, i will study the middle ages and write stories that have them as the setting but live my life in 2019.

So 2018 is over. Just like 2017 ended. Just like 2016 ended.

2018 is over.

Before discussing that, i would like to share several scriptures. First, the passage discussed in church Sunday morning (12-30-18):

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (HCSB)
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.

He spent a significant amount of his sermon on these words. The thought that stuck out most to me was his list of three types of people listening to the sermon:

  • the nonbeliever who never started their race
  • the believer who for whatever reason has made negative growth in their Christian race this year
  • the believer who can look back on January 1, 2018, and say, “Thank You, God, for helping me grow so much this year.”

For a variety of reasons, i am in the middle group as i look back on 2018. I hate having to admit that, but the simple fact of the matter is that it is true. I wouldn’t say that 2018 was a bad year (more on that below), but if i am honest, spiritually it was very rough. As such, i thank God for bringing the following passage to mind:

Hebrews 12:12-17 (HCSB)
Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees,  and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.  Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.  Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.  And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal.  For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears.

There are several takeaways from this passage. At the risk of rambling on too long, i will sum them up in bullet points:

  • God wants me to be restored. He wants you to be restored as well.
  • The first step to being strengthened and straightened is to pursue godly relationships with people and to live a holy life–seeing God as holy too.
  • The next step is to watch out for bitterness, because bitterness and grace are incompatible.
  • The last step is to refuse to practice or make excuses for immorality, even for a moment.
  • The reason for the steps and God’s desire for our restoration is that those who began the Christian race might finish it. Esau was disqualified.

God is gracious. I can trust Him. He loves me. He wants what’s best for me. I must simply put these steps in practice, and my Christian walk will grow by leaps and bounds in 2019.

But now the moment of truth:
When it comes to my goals for 2018, how did i do?

I got a job substitute teaching. I started attending a church in which i could practice loving the people there. I wrote half of a new novel in November for NANOWRIMO. And i wrote 120 blog posts, all but ten of them on this site. Also, i met a wonderful Christian woman and started talking to her in mid-November, so my prayer is that i would be careful with her heart and love her well. It’s possible that God answered my concluding request for 2018 from my post last year. I pray every day that He might have.

Which leads me to look forward to 2019. Here are my goals (in no particular order):

  • spend more time reflecting on Scripture: less reading, more praying
  • journal daily: beginning with the pastoral epistles
  • blog at least twice a week: 104 posts at least
  • finish the rough draft of my NANOWRIMO novel
  • go back to school for a master’s level degree (or teaching credential)
  • move out of my parent’s house
  • grow in love for others: especially my girlfriend and her kids
  • find a better job
  • get involved in some form of ministry
  • work out more regularly

Well, there you have it. I pray that 2019 might be a year of many transitions, but most importantly, many spiritual transitions. I’ve treated the Bible as a textbook to be read and studied for too long, but i’ve not spent nearly enough time letting it read and study me.

What do you hope to get out of your 2019?

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus

Thanks for reading.

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