A second glance at today’s title brings ominous thoughts to mind. "Is he closing out his blog?” “Is he closing out something in his ministry?” “Just what is he closing out?” I’m aware that a “Close Out” can be a sale, but does it signify the end of the business, the end of the year, the end of a certain season or just the end of a certain product? In all cases, it means the end of something, but what?
For me, those words do signify that something is coming to an end, but it’s the same thing that is coming to the end for you: 2014. As I “Close Out” Dwell & Cultivate for another year, I have a few thoughts to share as we head into the holidays.
1. Life is short!
A beloved aunt passed away this year. Aunt Johnnie lived for many years with severe pain, but she was one of the kindest, most gentle women I ever knew. For her, the 92 years she lived were actually too many; she would have preferred to go home to heaven much sooner. Still she cheered us with her attitude and poured out love to all who knew her.
My friends Jo Patti, Bev, Olivia and Brian have all passed away this month. In each case, their lives were relatively short and their loss brings acute pain. Watching them slip out of this life — all were followers of Jesus and they have gone to the place He promised to prepare for them — leaves their families and closest friends with the deep sadness that accompanies their deaths.
“Teach us to number our days…” the Psalmist (Psalm 90:12) said. We can’t really increase our tomorrows, but we can live today to the fullest!
2. Reflect on the lessons of this year.
What have you learned?
What have you gained?
What have you cherished?
What have you wasted?
What investment will yield future rewards?
What do you need to stop doing?
3. Establish a plan for the new year.
How do you want to live differently? What new habit do you need to pick up? I have learned that many good habits are made or lost by tiny decisions. For instance, a decision to walk every day can generate huge health benefits. A problem most people encounter, though, is that they procrastinate. They plan to walk for a certain number of minutes or a certain distance, then they don’t get started on time. That often leads to the decision not to go at all. “I’ll just skip today,” they think. “I’ll do it tomorrow.” You KNOW what happens next; “tomorrow" becomes another “tomorrow” and the decision gets lost. This is where a tiny change can change everything. If you are late and can’t make your planned goal, GO ANYWAY! Walking less is better than not walking at all. When you return home, you can rejoice that you did something and be ready to do better tomorrow!
One area where I encourage you to plan is to have a daily time with God. I have been doing this for many years and I can tell you that the benefits are amazing. For 2015, I invite you to join me and read the Bible through. I have discovered a plan that breaks the year into monthly segments. This means that new people can be welcomed every month and those who get bogged down can pick it up and have a fresh start each month. I will let you know more as we get ready to roll. I plan for us to begin on January 5, 2015. Also, Cathy and I both read a devotional book each year. I will let you know more about this part of our lives, too!
I think it’s an advantage to most of us that the Christmas holidays are at year’s end. We have some time to reflect on the past and think about what’s next. That’s our topic this weekend at Stone Ridge Church. I hope you can join us!
In the meantime, thanks for joining me along the way in 2014! We wish you a full dose of God’s grace and joy this Christmas season!