I know . . . everyone has moved on to the new year . . . resolutions, diets, budgets . . . all that. But every year, I look back and think through what I learned the previous year. Experience doesn’t yield wisdom but evaluated experience does. Some of this came from reading, some from experience, some from divine revelation. Here goes . . .
1. Just like no one ‘got’ the internet until it was embodied by websites like Google and Facebook, no one ‘got’ the love and truth of God until it was embodied in Jesus Christ. Mentoring has huge impact on younger men because they’re exposed to an older, more mature Christ-follower who embodies Jesus in a real and relevant way. Many young men have never spent any extended time with an older man who is all-in for Jesus.
2. All my life, we’ve talked about ‘reaching the lost.’ We bifurcated the world into the ‘saved’ and the ‘lost’ and usually, once someone prayed the prayer, we considered them ‘saved.’ I now know that ‘lost’ is more than a status, it’s a condition and a direction. And ‘saved’ happens when a person truly trusts Jesus, not just when a few words are repeated.
3. We’ve been assigned a “portion and a cup” by the Lord. (My passage for last year was Psalms 16:5-21 which starts with those words.) I’ve learned that we all have a ‘portion,’ meaning a role, a calling, a place in the world and Kingdom work to do. But we all have a ‘cup,’ like Jesus’ on the Cross or Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” Accept it. Rest in it. Lean into it with Him. Don’t resist.
4. Maybe the most uncomfortable yet useful question God often poses to us when we slow down and listen . . . “What breaks your heart?” That question can take us to God’s calling for our prayers, our giving, our lives.
5. Relationally, the best question ever might just be: “What does love require of me right now?” When I’ve stopped and asked God this question, it’s been remarkable how faithfully and clearly He’s answered. When I obey what I hear, relationships get stronger. When I fail to ask the question or fail to obey His voice, they get worse.
6. God is with me and that’s all I need to know. I can’t nail Him down on what’s going to happen next . . . He rarely shares that information. But knowing He’s with me gives me everything I need to endure and move forward, no matter the circumstance.
7. Everyone has two versions of their story . . . one with God, one without. A lot rides on which version they believe.
8. Dallas Willard said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today.” I have made a real effort to slow down, listen and walk with God more deliberately. It’s a key focus moving into the new year.
9. Jesus might say, “I died to make you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. My wonder has been replaced by ‘to do’ lists. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear my voice. A mind pre-occupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to me. Listen to me and live abundantly.” (I quit making lists with checkboxes on Thursday, December 17th!)
10. Prayers are always relevant and heard because God is timeless and is the author of my story (including what happens next) regardless of when He wrote it or whether He changed it. I’ll never know and it doesn’t matter.
I highly recommend this little exercise. It’ll make you think . . . and remember!
What are some of the most important things you learned in 2015? Share them here.