By Mark A. Taylor
“What a difference a day makes.” We’ve all experienced the truth of that proverb, but when you substitute “year” for “day,” the changes can seem even more dramatic.
Think about the year we’re finishing. In just those 12 months: Someone close was diagnosed with disease or cured from one. Romances blossomed or marriages dissolved. Neighbors came and went. Job layoffs or promotions changed a family’s lifestyle. Babies were born, and a loved one died.
Year’s end can be a wonderful time to reflect on the rhythm of life. “We’re used to seeing the doctor for an annual physical,” a friend told me. “I challenge my students to do an annual spiritual checkup as well.”
As you look back at your 2013, you might do well to consider questions like these:
What has surprised you this year? What lessons could God teach you from these unexpected blessings or bombshells?
Do you feel closer to God or farther from him? What choices have you made that affected this change?
How regular has been your habit of prayer and Bible reading? Is your relationship with God richer because your communication with him has grown? What new thing have you learned from him in your quiet times?
Are you serving him more or less than last year? Consider not only a list of jobs you do at the church, but also how God works through all your work and relationships and pastimes. Look not only at hours spent but at fruit borne—in your life as well as the lives of others.
Think of the relationships that mean the most to you. How have they changed this year? Do you have a new friend? Have you lost an old friend? Are you closer to the members of your family, or are you growing apart? Why have each of these changes happened?
What is your great regret from this year? What have you learned from it to make next year better?
Take these questions to a quiet corner and write answers in a journal or notebook. Then turn the page and jot some goals for the coming year.
Each year the doctor may tell us to increase our exercise, improve our diet, or start a new medicine. Can you find spiritual counterparts to each of these for your life in 2014?