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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

A Way Forward

"It's not working!” “We’re stuck.”

“My routine is monotonous and boring.” “I hope 2020 will be better than in 2019!”

“How did I allow myself to add 20-pounds to my already weak skeleton?”

“I’m thankful I reached my goals last year. Now, how can I improve on last year’s success?”

Is it me? Or, do you also approach a new year — dreaming and hoping things will be different and more desirable?

Each year around mid-December, I try to slow things down a bit to allow myself an opportunity to review the year that’s about to end. It’s part of my routine.

I enjoy the time to review the goals I made last year for my family, finance, and work? I take the time to notice my spiritual condition. Where — and how have I grown in my relationship with God this past year? What’s needed to continue my growth with God this coming year?

Additionally, I pay attention to my emotional and physical health. What’s stressing me? What’s necessary to alleviate my anxiety. How’s my physical stamina? What are my doctors advising me to pay attention to — and am I following their advice?

I enjoy the “downtime” to assess my well-being and anticipate and plan for the coming year. And, each year-end, I’m reminded:

Next year will — once again — require change!

From the cradle to the grave, change is constant in our lives.

The truth is: I would love to be able to eat the wrong foods, avoid exercise, and never gain weight. It would be nice to purchase anything — and everything — I desire, while always having a surplus in my bank account. Wouldn’t it be wonderful never to have to expend energy and effort to encourage healthy relationships?

You know — and I know — life doesn’t work that way.

The salesperson who sets goals understands: Reaching your goal does not magically happen. Action is required.

The follower of Jesus recognizes: A relationship with Jesus comes out of our desire to know Him intimately and discover and implement practices to encourage our spiritual transformation.

To avoid being “stuck” (emotionally, physically, vocationally, financially, relationally, and spiritually) requires adjustment. It also demands HOPE!

I hope things will improve that we will be better and that tomorrow will be brighter in 2020! However, we understand: It’s not magic that we need. What’s required is HOPE: firm confidence that — despite what may or may not happen this coming year — God is with us.

Perhaps your 2019 was a year that allowed you to see all your expectations fulfilled. I trust that was the case.

However, if — like me — you experienced loss, setback, and turbulence, perhaps you are ready to welcome change that will provide a way forward.

My “crystal ball” was broken a long time ago. I can’t predict what will come to pass this New Year. And, as much as I would love to wave my “magic wand” to transform my desire to reality, I’m aware that it’s more than a “crystal ball” and “magic wand” I need.

What I need most at the beginning of this New Year is reassurance! I need to be reminded that God is at work in our setbacks and our successes. Despite our failures, resistance, and stubbornness, God’s faithfulness is steadfast. He’s faithful to transform our trials into treasure.

A way forward requires us to let go of the past!

Releasing the “could have, should have, and would have” frees us to take the step of faith necessary to move us forward. Are you ready to discover a way forward?

Martin Luther King Jr. offered us some sage advice:

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”

The best any of us can do is to imagine a brighter future. It’s not possible to know what will happen this coming year. However, it is reassuring for us to believe:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore, I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” - Lamentations 3:22–26 (ESV).

May you observe God’s faithfulness to you, now and throughout the New Year.

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