Joking aside, I did some reflecting and pondering yesterday; reflecting on lessons I learned in 2016, and pondering what may lie ahead in 2017. Both were enjoyable exercises. I asked myself:
- What were the top five or ten things I learned in the past year?
- What are the top five or ten things I want to accomplish in the year ahead?
Then I focused on one each, the most important lesson and goal:
- What was the single most significant lesson for me in 2016?
- What will be my primary focus going forward in 2017?
Well, typical for me in my morning quiet time, I wrote a letter to my Father. It went something like this...
Dear Father, January 1, 2017
What better way to start the New Year than to spend time with You, reflecting on where we've been and pondering what lies ahead. I ask myself, "What are the top ten things I learned in 2016?" No doubt, most -if not all- of them regard spiritual matters. To me, those are the lessons that matter most. They are my Revelations For Life itself.
Probably, the most significant thing I learned in 2016 was to purify my motives when interacting with others about spiritual matters as a Christian. Specifically, I was attending a local church for the wrong reasons. I was trying to please others, not You, Father, while at the same time I disagreed with the doctrines of that church.
I see now my attitude was hypocritical. There is no room for compromise if I want to walk in the Spirit (and I do). I must work out my own salvation, not someone else's. Nor do I want to be arrogantly engaged in discussions of right and wrong biblical interpretations and human traditions that tear down. Who am I to cast judgement on another's personal spiritual journey?
Rather, may I always be ready to give a reasonable answer, with all gentleness, seasoned with salt, to anyone who asks about the hope that is in me, that is Christ. And if they don't ask, I won't shove it down their throats. If they stop listening, I'll stop talking. You respected my journey at every stage, Father, even before I knew You, or wanted to know You. Why shouldn't I do likewise?
Furthermore, I am sure You reward those who diligently seek You. In that regard, let me be an instrument in Your Hands, Father, to communicate Your abounding love, Your boundless mercy, Your amazing grace, the depth of Your riches in Christ, etc. Not for my own glory, but for Yours.
Looking forward to 2017, my heart desires so much to reach those who long for Your wisdom, but struggle to find direction and truth in this world. I was hurt and betrayed by those who called themselves Christian religious leaders and were instead wolves in sheep's clothing. There are so many of them! How do I know who to follow? How do I know who is speaking the truth? What is truth? Where is truth?
I also want to fellowship with those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. There are always more insights into Your manifold wisdom to be discovered. May I apply myself to build up my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to be built up by them. Help me to be kind to others, tenderhearted, forgiving others as You forgave me in Christ. Let my words give grace to those who hear.
For these reasons, looking forward to 2017, I plan to write in my blog consistently with purpose, communicating boldly the love You've shown me. I hope readers will stay with me throughout the year as I open my heart to the lessons You have taught me and continue to teach me. I pray our hearts will be enlightened by the power of Your Spirit working in us.
Perhaps the spiritual journeys of mine and some of the readers of my blog will come to a crossroad of mutual benefit, where we find ourselves eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, walking in manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.