The year behind, and the year ahead…

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I guess we all come to a point each year when we look back and assess the year that has been. I think we all have a desire to see where we’ve been, in order to be able to see what impact we have made.

The reason (one of the reasons) why my husband loves to do the mowing is that he can, very clearly, see where he’s been and, I guess, what is yet to be done.

I believe that we all have a drive, on some level, to be able to measure our success. We want a bigger house, a better car, we want our children to be successful, we want promotions, we tear down our barns to build greater ones, we seek to upgrade what we have. I think we desire this because this type of success is measurable, we can look at it and see. Better still, others can look at it and measure our success.

As Christians, our instructions are pretty straight forward… we are to upgrade, we are to build, we are to add to what we have … just not in the way many of us do.

giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember, what seems a life time ago, I was at a New Years Eve get-together with my cousins, I was visiting from out of town. Carloads of teenagers and twenty somethings descended on the home of one of the church families, and we saw the new year in together. It was the end of year 12 for me, the number I’d received in the mail (in those days) wasn’t what I’d wanted, it wasn’t what I was capable of, it was what I’d earned. I was looking at the year ahead without a clue, as to what I was going to do.

Just before the New Year began, one of the guys there gave a short message. It was simple, or at least what I remember of it was simple, he encouraged us to make the passage above our New Year’s resolution, to build on something that mattered. That was twenty three years ago, at the end of each year that message comes back to me.

So maybe, for you, this year hasn’t been one that you’d classify as a raging success …
Maybe you are still carrying the extra 10kg that you had made it your goal to lose this year.
Maybe you are facing another year alone when you’d really hoped and prayed that this would be the year that you’d meet the partner of God’s providing for you.
Maybe you’d hoped and prayed that this year God would reveal His will to you with regard to your purpose in your service of Him… but you still can’t see it.
Maybe this year you missed out on that job you were really hoping for.
Maybe, worse still, this year you lost the job you believed was your way to serve Him.
Maybe your kids are still making choices that break your heart.
Maybe your spouse has broken a promise that has fractured your family, your life, your heart and your home.
Maybe this year, you prayed for the healing of, but lost, a loved one.
Maybe this year, you have a loved one who has received a heartbreaking diagnosis, or maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your heartbreaking diagnosis.
Maybe you still feel that those who are against you massively outnumber those who are for you.

Looking back on your year, compared with year of others, yours is not a successful one. 2016 will not go down in the book of your days as being one of the best.

Maybe you need to look at all of this from a different perspective, as the fox tells the little prince at the end of the story of The Little Prince, it’s the things that are invisible that matter.

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Maybe 2016 saw your faith grow.

Maybe in 2016, to your faith was added virtue,

to your virtue was added knowledge,

to your knowledge, self-control,

to your self-control, perseverance,

to your perseverance, godliness,

to your godliness, brotherly kindness

to your brotherly kindness, love.

Do you know what my friend? None of this fruit is easy to grow and in fact I’ve only ever seen it grow in difficult situations. But once grown – it will not need to be traded in, it will not go out of season, it cannot be taken from you. This fruit while invisible to the eye, creates more fruit, and if you are wise you will ask discerning people you know, if they can see it. If they can, they will no doubt tell you that you are not who you used to be.

So at the end of this year maybe don’t take stock of the stuff you’ve accumulated, or the successes others have praised you for. Instead, maybe read over this passage in 2 Peter 1:5-8, meditate on it, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the areas of your life where this fruit has grown and if you’re brave even ask that in the year ahead, He would develop more of that fruit in your life.

From this point on, build on the foundation that matters, and add to the things that matter …

… faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.
For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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