As we approach the end of another year, it has become my practice to review what has been, and to look ahead to what may come.
2021 has been a tough year for many people, and likewise, my own family has seen a number of struggles. In early January, my grandmother (who we affectionately called the “Queen” of our family) went home to be with the Lord. She held the Word of God on her lips and held it in her heart as she left us, and this Christmas was not the same without her.
On the day of my grandmother’s funeral, we learned that my mother-in-law had again been diagnosed with cancer, and this awful disease took her from us in July.
It would be all too easy to focus on the negatives of this year, and by doing so start to believe that it was a “bad” year. There were many things to be thankful for however, such as our family moving into a wonderful new home in late summer, and my eldest daughter making the transition into secondary school.
Every year is a mix of tears and laughter, joy and pain. Sometimes the balance feels one way or the other, but I thank God that He walks with us through each and every step.
I am not big on “regrets” as it seems unproductive to waste energy on things that cannot be changed. Had I my time again though, I would have liked to prioritise this blog and my writing projects more. It was probably my most successful year on the blog, depending on how you measure success and yet I had little time to give to it in the latter part of this year. Even less time was given to my two unfinished books, and I want to put that right in 2022.
Like most other people I know, I only have 24 hours a days and seven days per week. It is what you do with those hours that matters. I cannot give this blog or my book projects more time by turning days into 26 or 28 hours… instead, I need to prioritise what is important. Lord, help me to do this right! As a starting point, I intend to cut back on a few other commitments so that I can focus on writing more.
I am particularly excited about a project my wife and I are starting. While that may sound contradictory to what I said above about cutting back, this project won’t take a huge amount of time for me, but do pray for my wife! I am keen to talk more about it, but will save the details for another post in future once it takes shape. Watch this space!
I want to close out this post by thinking about something God has been speaking to me about. The Lord drew my attention to these verses from the book of James:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.James 1:22-25 (NIV)
God wants me to be a “doer” this coming year, and not just a “hearer.”
I frequently listen to Christian teaching in the form of podcasts. My feed has over a hundred different episodes to be listened to. This stems from pre-COVID days when I used to commute daily. I would spend my time on the train listening to various things. Now, working from home mostly, I have less time to consume content like this.
I believe God has been showing me that while listening to such materials is great, the aim of the exercise is not to reduce the length of my feed and delete another completed episode, rather it is to learn something. I think God wants me to listen to fewer messages, but to really engage with the ones that I do.
James encourages believers to not just listen to the Bible, but to do what it says. Don’t just attend church, nod along to your pastor’s sermon, and then forget all about it by Monday morning. Take notes. Write down some actions. Ask yourself what you will do differently because of what you have heard. Only then will we be “doers of the Word.”
I hope and pray that you will have a blessed 2022. I know that the Lord has a good plan for your life, and His love for you has no limits. That does not mean 2022 won’t have its fair share of problems, but you can face them with Jesus by your side.
I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for reading any of my posts this year. I remain truly humbled that anyone wants to read my words, and your comments and messages of encouragement are such a blessing to me. I thank the Lord for each of you.
You cannot change the things of 2021, but you can walk into 2022 determined to serve the Lord.
I leave you with these verses from Revelation:
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
12 In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”Revelation 5:11-13 (NIV)
He is indeed worthy! Praise His holy Name! Amen!