It can be difficult to move on into a new year because of loose ends from the year before. Financial woes, emotional baggage, strained relationships, health issues, and even holiday weight gain seem to snatch the joy out of enjoying the blessing of living to see another new year.
On December 31, 2014, I was sitting in a watchnight service at my church. As the clock seemed to race from 11 p.m. to midnight, I started to grow anxious with sweaty palms thinking about tax deductions that I neglected to take care of prior to the end of 2014. I actually started to leave church and rush home to take care of those loose ends before midnight, but then I heard the pastor say, “Let 2014 Go!” When I looked up at him, it seemed as though he was looking straight at me! Was I so stressed and distracted that it showed on my face? Even worse, was I so engulfed in my thoughts that I spoke aloud? God used my pastor to snap me out of the pressure cooker I had allowed.
As 2015 was coming to an end, I realized that once again, there were a multitude of loose ends that would not be tightened as I entered 2016. Instead of panicking, I decided to take these three steps:
Step One: Embrace my human frailty. Even with the best intentions, we still fail.
- “…For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Rom 7:15). If the Apostle Paul struggled like this, I know I will to. I’ve actually made decisions to start a diet eliminating sweets but in less than 48 hours, I totally forgot about the diet. As I licked the last of the chocolate cake off my fingers, I remembered the diet plan!
- “…The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). Though willing to obey Jesus, the disciples could not stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray even during such a critical time for them and Jesus.
Step Two: Let 2015 go. I am making a conscious effort to do so.
- “…Forgetting those things which are behind” (Phil 3:13). There may be some things that we can still rectify from 2015, but there will be some things that we just have to kiss goodbye. There were relationships that I tried to improve last year but was unsuccessful. The Lord comforted me with Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” I can only do my part, not the other person’s. So I am moving on. Maybe it will be better going forward.
- “…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us” (Heb 12:1). We should evaluate ourselves and take off actions, attitudes, and thoughts that are sinful and keep us from improving our walk with the Lord. Be honest with ourselves that we failed in some areas in 2015, confess sin, accept forgiveness, and let it go.
Step Three: Trust God for a better 2016. God will perfect the things appointed for us.
- “…reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Satan will remind us of our past failures and try to paralyze us with our failures, but God reminds us of our future hope and enables us with His power to reach forward.
- “…Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb 12:1). Races are run forward not backwards. The race set before us is to live for Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and to make disciples in all the world. Don’t get distracted.
- “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2). As we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus we can move forward by faith in 2016. Though we may have failed in 2015, please remember Jesus did not fail in 2015, and He will not fail in 2016 either. I’m committing myself to a daily saturation of God’s Word in 2016. This will help me look more to Jesus for His enabling power to live a life more pleasing to him in 2016.
Is there anything left over from 2015 that is hindering you from joyful expectations of a God-given new year? Ask God to help you let 2015 go and help you move forward in 2016 for His glory. Maybe these 3 steps will be of help to you as they are to me. Happy New Year!