The Christmas decorations are down, the presents have all been opened and the chaos of the holidays is slowing down and things are falling back into order. So, I sit here, reflecting and taking it all in, trying to remember everything that has happened over the past year. But something inside me can't stay here long. My mind and heart are fixed on the next twelve months.
What will happen?
Who will I meet?
What will change?
What will stay the same?
Every year brings new goals, dreams and plans... to get fit, be a better friend and pastor, to save more money, to love better, to get more organized, etc. But something else is at the top of my desires this year... to know Christ more.
I've made goals and resolutions before, and like most people they last until February. Then, somehow I forget about them. I think the place I fall short isn't the desire or the motivation, but more so, the consistency. Anyone can start out strong, and if you have a gym membership, you've seen this clearly. In January there are no treadmills open and every station is full and crowded, but if you hang around long enough by the time March rolls around things start to thin out. Why? Because anyone can start, but it takes discipline and consistency to finish strong.
In John 15, Jesus uses the illustration of a vine and its branches, paralleling our relationship to Christ. The branches, when they are connected to the vine grow and produce fruit. Similarly, when we are connected to Christ and abide in him we flourish.
I recently watched a devotional by Beth Moore where she explained, step by step, how she spent her daily time with the Lord. Everything from the journal she used to the place she sat. As I watched it, my mind went to my time with Jesus. What are my routines, what can I improve on, how can I change it, what can I implement from her routine into mine? And one thing she said grabbed my attention and won't seem to leave my mind. She was speaking about her prayer life and said,
I sat and thought about that for a long time. So often we focus on what we need or the crisis in our lives or in a loved ones lives rather than focusing our attention on simply knowing Him. We use prayer as means to and end. The Bible does talk about asking the Lord for what we need and it will be given to us, but this isn't what I'm talking about. Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily routine of crying out to the Lord for a need, for Him to provide or heal or save, that we forget to just be with Him.
This is key in developing consistency in our relationship with Christ. Because instead of approaching your time with the Lord as a time to ask for things or as something that has to be done, it becomes something you look forward to. Just like spending time with a close friend, you enjoy it, not because they always give you things, but because you can't wait to hear what they will say and you have so much to tell them; you just enjoy their company. In the same way, when you and I approach our time with the Lord with the mindset of getting to know Him, it becomes something you look forward to rather than an obligation.
To pray and spend time with the Lord, not just to ask for things, but simply to know Him more. So, if you're like me, and this is your desire as well, make a plan, set a time and a place, develop the discipline of coming daily before the Lord. But in all of that, pursue Jesus. Because, prayer isn't about getting what we ask for, prayer is about knowing Christ and making His desires our desires.
I hope you stick to all of your goals and resolutions this year, but mostly, I hope you end 2016 knowing Christ more deeply and intimately than you ever have before.
What are some of your goals for 2016?