As we step over the threshold of the New Year, many of us have our List in our hands or at least in our back pockets. (You know…that list of things you will do differently, say frequently, or change effectively in the promise of a new year.)
New years are beautiful things! They are full of excitement and endless possibilities. Many of us hold onto big expectations and set out with great ambition. Some approach the New Year with a little more caution and skepticism. Others couldn't care less as they've found themselves trying and failing — one too many times.
No matter where we fall on the spectrum, the bottom line is this: without effort, there will be no change. Without change, we will continue to experience the same obstacles and hindrances that hold us back.
After the New Year’s shiny motivation has rubbed off, many of us, unfortunately, return to our bad habits and old ways. Even though we deeply desire for our circumstances and ourselves to change, we find ourselves saying and doing the very things we set out to change.
How can we stop this vicious cycle of good intentions simply being good intentions?
Without this being a Silver Bullet, I want to share how I approached 2017 and what became of it…
My unforgettable year was marked by these two truths:
THE LIST IS HIS
New Year’s Day was on a Sunday last year and it’s rare for the Randleman family to ride together to River Church. It is even more rare (and special) when I get to sit next to my husband during the sermon, as he’s the Lead Pastor (and is normally the one preaching). With his hand on my knee (insert blushing emoji) we listened to our Associate Pastor preach a sermon titled, "Surrender." One of the scriptures that was read was Galatians 2:20 which says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
I was reminded that my life, my year, and my List were not actually mine at all…
It was all His.
Psalm 50:10 says, “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.”
The sooner you come to the realization that everything is His, the easier it will be for your heart to surrender it all to Him.
I realized that everything that I wanted to do and planned to do in 2017, had to first be approved by the Boss.
I came prepared to Staff Meeting and brought my List with me. I took my seat in a swivel chair at the conference table and noticed that the Holy Spirit was present, as was Jesus, who sat at the Boss’ right hand. I was signaled to begin and presented my List - explaining the reasoning and importance of each item. When I had finished, I quietly awaited a response.
When we made eye-contact, I realized that I was in the company of the I AM. I could hardly breathe when His presence flooded the room. I saw His glory. I understood His worth. Suddenly my List (that I had worked hard on) seemed small and insignificant. Everything dimmed in comparison to His brilliance. In that moment, I decided He could have my List and my year. In my heart, I gave Him full permission to do with them as He pleased. I quietly and boldly proclaimed that since Jesus was Lord of my life, then my 12-month calendar and daily schedule were going to reflect that. In a spirit of surrender, I leaned forward in my seat and handed my List over to the Boss. My demands turned into desires in the exchange. Instantly my List became His List.
We ended our Staff Meeting in prayer and something amazing happened. He took the List that He had been holding in His hands, and slid it back to me from across the table. There was a twinkle in His eyes when He said, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]
With the List in hand, I left the Conference Room in expectation and excitement. It was going to be an unforgettable year! I just knew it.
Having an understanding that it was His List to begin with, made surrendering it to Him easy. I knew that if I was truly going to have an unforgettable year then:
GOD MUST BE FIRST
Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
A List without Jesus is empty and vain.
Matthew 16:26 says, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?"
Jesus plus nothing is exactly enough.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
If anything on my list was going to have any meaning, value, fulfillment, or purpose, then it had to be God first. Period.
The List I had composed wasn't fancy or even glamourous. It consisted of a little over 20 items, with a handful being simple, back-to-the-basic things; like writing thank-you’s, taking bubble baths, and running. There were also some stronger desires that the Lord had placed on my heart, like pouring into 100 women and becoming more serious about writing. If I was going to do any of it well, I knew that God would have to have the first and final word. After all, He was the Boss!
The List was His and His name deserved to be first on it.
This week, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Is it my List, or His?
- Is God first on it?
If you feel that you need a heart adjustment or a priority check, know that it is never too late to change!
I’ll be praying that you will be able to answer both questions confidently and that you will begin 2018 as your unforgettable year.