Hey friend! How are you holding up? Can you believe we’re a few days to the end of the year. Wow! I don’t know where you are right now, maybe you’re still in full work mode or your break started early and you’re taking time to rest. Maybe you’ve even started thinking about 2024, well that’s why I’m here. How about we go over the year together before thinking forward?
Let’s start with a refresh: We’re going to slow down, get away from the noise, and take a deep breath as we look at what 2023 has been like. The highs, the lows, and the in-betweens. If you’ve kept a journal since the year began, this is the time to bring it out of your shelf or scroll down your notepad if you keep things digital.
Look at how you started, maybe you were optimistic about 2023, all the things you hoped to get done, and did get done. Or you were hyped about the year but a few months in you had some really low moments, and eventually, you got back up.
Think of some of the beautiful memories you made, the things that made you smile, cry, or laugh out loud.
Just step out of the busyness, slow down, and reflect.
What Revelation do you have?: One thing I love about reflecting is how it brings things into clearer perspective, where things we probably missed out on become visible to us. A relatable experience is found in Genesis 28 where Jacob had an encounter with God after defrauding his brother of his birthright and leaving home. God revealed Himself to him in a dream and we see Jacob’s response in verse 16.
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said; “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!”
Jacob had been traveling for a while and in stopping to rest, he had a revelation that God was still with him.
It’s been a long and eventful year which has looked different for each one of us. And maybe a reflection exercise doesn’t really excite you because it would remind you of things that didn’t turn out like you expected. But I think we can also be in those God-ordained moments where we’re literally living in answered prayers but are simply unaware of it because our minds are unsettled and our perspective is blurred.
Maybe if we replayed some of the moments in 2023 we just might find a “surely, the Lord was in this place” revelation. A revelation of how He was all the while working everything out for our good. How He gave you capacity and strength for a difficult season in your life or the intentional friendships He brought your way. Think of that relationship that didn’t work out just so you would meet your real Miss or Mr Right and be one of those leaving the singles behind in 2023. Or have you forgotten your sapa experiences and how you didn’t think you’d make it through another day but God provided in the most unexpected ways? And there’s the most overlooked, being alive and in good health.
Surely the Lord has always been with us,
Surely He has been good and faithful to us.
It’s human for us to forget and focus on the things we do not have. But can you be encouraged towards gratitude today? David says in Psalm 103;
“O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!”
Psalms 103:1-2 MSG
Here’s your cue to take a Praise break. Remember all that the Lord has done for you. Don’t forget a single blessing! Remember not just the big but the seemingly little blessings and thank God for everything.
It’s time to Reorder: How do you feel after the praise break? Pumped right? I love that! You’ll need the energy for what’s next.
I don’t know your thoughts about fixing things after a few messes have been made. It can be quite tasking if it’s a huge one, but I love the relief that comes with it, like lying on a neatly laid bed with no pile of clothes.
In looking back at how the year has been, I’m guessing you’ve taken note of a couple of things that need fixing, moving forward. Maybe your prayer pattern, or your money habits or a broken friendship.
It is wise to intentionally take stock of our lives and Identify our strong points and lapses. This is the first step in making the next right decision.
Take a look at how you did this year, find out the things that worked well, things that didn’t, and areas of your life that can be improved. By doing this, you know what to pay more attention to and maybe what to let go of. Then when you have identified these things, prayerfully ask God to teach you.
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” – Psalm 90:12 MSG
The Bible tells us not to lean on our own wisdom and that God is more than willing to give us His wisdom when we ask for it. Ask Him to teach you how to grow in knowing Him more, growing relationally, and in your vocation. Ask for His help in doing more with the time, skills and resources He has blessed you with. And when He does, be sure to act!
Now Release: Here comes the hard part, surrender. This doesn’t come easy to us as humans. We always want to have a sense of control over the outcome of things, and this often comes from a place of fear. We are afraid of disappointments and failure, the thought of handing over all our plans, desires and goals to someone seems too risky.
But what if we believed that the One who we’re committing ourselves to only has our best interests in mind?
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”
Jeremiah 29:11 AMPC
How easy would it be to live the next season of your life following the lead of He who holds the map and knows where you’re headed? If you can trust a total stranger to drive you to your destination, what would it take for you to trust God with all of your life in the year ahead?
Yes, I’m saying surrender your career, relationships, finance, marriage, and your kids, your “New Year’s resolution”, all of it to God.
“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”
Isaiah 26:3 AMPC
How does it feel knowing you can live this way in 2024 and for the rest of your life?
Surrender might not be easy, but the result is a life of rest and peace that is anchored on Jesus.
Friend, this is God’s desire for you, and I pray you become aware of it and walk in it.
Written by Tofunmi
Tofunmi volunteers with the Content Team at Sycamore Church.
(Blogposts are creative expressions generously provided for Sycamore Church. The ideas and thoughts do not necessarily represent the position of Sycamore Church)