2016 has arrived.
I started the year with a message from Hebrews 12:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
We are not the first people of faith to walk this way. Both in recent history and further back, there is a great cloud of witnesses – men and women who have walked faithfully with God, sometimes in very trying circumstances.
We are to be inspired by them and to emulate them.
They had gritty faith.
And in light of their courageous walk of faith, we are challenged, at the start of this New Year, to:
Have a clear out! A spiritual, emotional and, possibly, physical declutter.
What are some of the things that are holding you back, clogging up your spiritual arteries, hindering and hamstringing you?
What are the things that are not helping your walk with God?
In this respect, I found Bill Hybels’ book: “Simplify – Ten Practices to Declutter Your Soul” very helpful.
I liked his thoughts on using your diary as a means to an end. Ask the question, not what do I want to do in 2016, but who do I want to become? Put the right things to facilitate that aim and desire in your diary. If you want to become a better father, schedule time with your children – put it in the diary. If you want a more balanced work/life schedule, put times for recharging, recreation, and real life relationships (social media doesn’t count) in the diary.
Some things need to be restricted and relegated to create the freedom to do what is really important.
You mostly don’t need to go looking for it!
We are challenged to throw it off. Get rid of it. Change course.
We are starting the discipleship course Freedom in Christ this month – helping people deal with hurts and habits and hang-ups. This could be very helpful to you in this arena!
For some of us, throwing off stuff that has entangled us could mean real repentance - a complete change of direction and a turnaround. For others, it will mean more of a course correction, a degree change that over time will make a big difference.
Is there an area of your life that has entangled you and that it is time to address?
January can be a difficult month. Christmas and New Year are over. It’s back to work and school. The weather is dark and miserable. Coughs and colds abound. Sometimes – often! – the Christian walk or race is one of persevering; a long obedience in the same direction. Living out our faith in the misty mundane!
Keep going and don’t give up. There is a great cloud of witnesses cheering you on.
As Martin Luther’s spiritual director told him: “Don’t focus so much on your sin – focus on Jesus.”
In 2016 – keep your eyes on Jesus.
He has started something in you that he is committed to finishing.
Trust him on this.
Have a very blessed and God-centred 2016!