As I look back at 2021, I am grateful for my blessings, aware of all the things I wish I had done differently, remorseful for the pain I have caused others, saddened by all the suffering around me and excited by challenges that stretched me to grow. If that sounds like a mixed bag, there’s good reason. It is. But this is exactly what it means to be human. And more importantly, it is exactly what has helped me realize why I need Jesus more than ever. And I do. I need his love that seeks me out where I am as I am. I need his salvation to heal the relationship with him I have ruptured. I need his new life that enables me to be the person God has created me to be. I need his joy that transcends both despair and happiness. I need his hope that he is making God’s will just as much a reality on earth as it already is in heaven. And it’s because of all of this that my deepest longing as I look ahead to 2022 is that we fall more deeply in love with Jesus than we ever have before.
There are lots of things I know I can’t do. I can’t be an NFL quarterback for all the obvious reasons or create the latest technology that’s going to change the world because my mind is just not wired that way or learn five languages since that part of my brain evidently has been assigned to some other task. However, God has blessed me with a number of gifts and abilities that matter and make a difference. So as I look ahead to 2022, I want to focus on these things a whole lot more and worry a whole lot less about what I can’t do. It’s the best way for me to be the unique me God created me to be. And it’s the best way for you to be the unique you God created you to be.
The older I get, the more I am aware of the fragility of life. My body gets sore and stiff, memory begins to fade, and the ‘would of, could of and should ofs’ of life begin to pile up. But the more I am aware of the fragility of life, the more I am also aware of the power of Jesus’ love. It transforms my fragility into resilience, fading memory into wisdom and the ‘would of, could of and should ofs’ into absolute reliance on grace. And the best part of all about this transformation is that it’s not because of anything I do, but rather what Jesus wants to do for me.
There are three basic approaches you can take to life. Number 1: You’re in charge and it’s up to you. Number 2: Life’s tough and you don’t get out alive. Number 3: God created you, loves you passionately, is actively involved in your life and you’re at your best when you choose to get on board with what God is doing. I’m sure you take each of these approaches at some point over the course of a day. I’m even more sure that the more you pay attention to what God’s up to and how you are going to respond, the better today’s going to be.
You may be like many people and are glad life is returning to normal. Which means, you’re ‘putting away Christmas’ until next year. While I understand the sentiment, it’s important to remember something. You can’t ‘put away’ Christmas, even if you have successfully crammed all the decorations into the attic. That’s because you can’t ‘put away’ how God sent His only Son as a manifestation of His love and a means of salvation. You can’t put away the Good News of a Great Joy. And you can’t put away the fact that when you look at Jesus you see God. So remember, it doesn’t matter what day the calendar says it is or what the temperature is outside or what else is going on. Every day can be Christmas!