(Part 2 of Some Thoughts about New Year’s Goals)

Pay attention to what God has been doing in your life and form your goals in response to what He has been teaching you.

When we start thinking about the possibilities that a new year inevitably brings, it is so easy to come up with a big list of hopes, dreams, desires….many of which may or may not be grounded in reality.  For me, I am interested in actually accomplishing what goes on my list of aspirations—another way for the spiritual to meet the practical in my life.

Dreaming Big or a Big Dreamer?

     It can be easy to bite off more than I am really willing to work for when it comes to this dreamy, brainstorming of the possibilities I’d like to achieve in the next 12 months.  How many of us have aimed to get in shape, be more patient, more organized, more whatever we feel we are lacking in our life?  Believe me; it is SO easy to have the same goal year after year.  I have the same 15 pounds that have made it onto my goal list for more years than I care to admit.  Every single year I make a goal to be more organized.  And although I have made progress in this area, it still makes it onto my personal hit-list…I mean goal list.  Too often my goals center around wanting to “fix” whatever I think is wrong with me, whatever I don’t like about myself, or whatever seems to continually cause trouble for me.  Anybody tracking with me here?

Although there is nothing wrong with striving for more and for better, I am beginning to realize that most of these aspirations come from me.  You see, I am learning that I need to start with what God has already been doing in my life and character, before launching off into an extra list of things to strive for.  If I get too busy pursuing my own agenda, I run the risk of 2 dangers.

  •  Missing out on what God wants me to be focused on.
  • Having the frustration of having to keep the learning the same lessons over and over again.  (That’s called learning the hard way, folks)

 So let me ask the question, what has God been teaching you this past year?

What lessons can you learn from your major challenges and victories?  Are there any concepts that keep coming up again and again and again…?  Often, these are places where God has much to teach us, meaning there is usually an ongoing process.

To be faithful is to be full of faith

For me, this past year seems to be unusually full of life lessons in God’s building plan for my character.  One lesson that has come up many times has to do with faithfulness.  To be faithful is to be full of faith. God has been guiding through Scripture, wisdom, energy, and opportunity about the importance of faithfully following Him, working in faith at whatever task He puts before me, even if I am not sure where He is leading and I don’t yet see the results of my efforts.  I am finding that this lesson applies to many areas of my life; parenting and writing seem to be two of the hot spots.  Over and over, through scripture and insight the Spirit whispers, be faithful…keep trusting…keep working… don’t insist on the end result today. 

I currently find myself in a space in life where I literally do not know where I am going. This year is a rotation year for this military family, and orders have not yet been given out.  I know we are moving;  I just don’t know where.  However, I know we are going to faithfully move wherever the Marine Corps sends us.  This in some ways is a physical picture of what is happening in my life spiritually.  As a parent, I don’t yet see where all of my children are going to end up (educationally, spiritually, socially, etc.), but I have my “orders” to teach them God’s ways, to love them, and trust God with them.  This I need to do faithfully, trusting God for the timing, the fruit, and the outcomes. Let me make it clear that I am not talking about doing nothing and waiting on God to do it all.  I am talking about working with faith.


In regard to writing, I have started this blog, had some great opportunities to teach and speak, and have a book nearly ready to be sent to a (which one?) publisher.  Where all this will lead…I don’t yet know.  What I do know is that I am to be faithful to learn, write, teach, and share in whatever manner or opportunity God gives.  Working faithfully and working in faith has everything to do with perseverance.

Galatians 6:8-9:

But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. (The Message)

The phrase, at the right time, refers to God’s timing and planning, not mine.  Some things in life take time to grow–kids and  vocations  fall in that category for sure.

Once I understand something that God has been teaching me, I can move that area to the top of my goal list, asking for wisdom to see concrete ways to apply what I have been learning.

In light of the lessons on working faithfully and trusting God for the results, how can I keep practicing the lesson learned?

 1.  When issues come up with my kiddos (bad attitudes, arguments, disobedience, immaturity, problems, etc), I can stay focused on trusting God to provide wisdom and growth on His timetable.  My goal is to respond with faith rather than excessive worry, stress, irritation, etc.

2.  For writing, my goals include honing my skills, continuing to learn about the technology end of things and faithfully working on the things God has given me to do.  And, get that book proposal done and in the mail.  Here again, my goal is to work in faith rather than fret about the difficulty of moving into the publishing world.

I have other goals as well, but we aren’t going there in the interest of keeping this post to a sort of reasonable length.

Making goals in these two areas helps me to focus on faithfulness where God has been working, and is a practical way of letting Him set the pace.

Romans 3:27-28  … What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.  (The Message)

Tools for Growing:  Here’s a tool you can use to help the spiritual meet the practical in your life any time of year

Pay attention to what God has been doing in your life and form your goals in response to what He has been teaching you.


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