It’s the first week of a new year. Like many of you, I’ve been busy setting goals and carefully choosing my “one word” . But I also did something I didn’t plan to do. It’s really helped me set the tone for the upcoming year and sharpen my focus on life. I want to share it with you.
NEW YEAR FOCUS ACTIONS
I was praying quietly to myself during our church’s prayer service for the New Year. I started writing because I always pray better when I write. Prayer is simply communicating with God and as my favorite T-shirt says, “I write better than I talk.”
Within a few minutes, I had written down eight actions I feel that God wants me to focus on this year. When nothing else came to mind, I went back over the list and expounded on each area.
This is what I wrote as I prayed.
I’ve got to start with praise and it has to begin with gratitude.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Psalm 100:4
Gratitude results in praise which is the doorway to communion with God.
Like a car with poor alignment, I naturally lean toward grumbling and complaining. I have to be intentional about looking for, noticing, acknowledging, remembering, and speaking about the thousands of ways God pours out His mercy upon me.
If I’m not paying attention, I’ll miss it. I’ll miss the sticky notes He scatters for me all around that say, “You are my beloved and I’m crazy about you.”
I need to talk to God all the time. And not forget to listen.
I will pray about everything—big or small.
It’s easy to remember to cry out to Him about the big stuff—the overwhelming obstacles, the insurmountable mountains, the drowning waves, the choking fears.
But no detail of my life is too small for the One who has numbered the hairs on my head.
And nothing is too big for the One who spoke all that is into existence and calls each star by name.
I try to do too much. I spread myself too thin.
I will learn to separate the “Must Do” from the “Want to Do” and the “Don’t Do” (aka “Let it Go” à la Frozen).
What is most important?
What good things do I need to let go of so I can hold on to the best things?
Where will my life have the most impact?
Don’t quit. Don’t give up or give in. Do the next right thing. If I’m confused about what that is, I will do the opposite of what I think my enemy would want me to do.
He wants to discourage me? I’ll put my hope in God.
He wants to defeat me? I’ll let God fight for me.
He wants me to quit? I’ll never give up.
He wants to silence me? I’ll speak up.
He wants me to worry? I’ll trust.
He wants me to lash out? I’ll love instead.
He wants me to be paralyzed by pain? I’ll forgive.
Jesus didn’t quit on me. He went all the way through injustice and torture to the cross for me—all the way to His death. He gave all He had.
How can I give any less in return?
No flimsy faith for me.
I will review my faith list on a weekly basis—daily if I have to. I will remind myself how to live undefeated with unshakable faith. Sometimes I think the whole reason God has me write all this stuff down is so I can go back and reread it when I’m struggling.
I don’t want to forget the life I’m called and committed to living. I don’t want to bring it weak when it comes to being who God has created me to be.
When I am frantic, I will remember to breathe and to say:
God’s got this. It does not all depend on me. The Lord fights my battles for me. It’s not up to me. It’s not all on my shoulders. His shoulders are broad and He carries me. He will make a way where there seems to be no way—a path through the sea and a stream through the desert. Greater is He who is in me than anything I face that is in this world.
STAND ON HIS PROMISES
If I’m going to stand on His promises, I’ve got to know what they are first.
I’m going to make a list. And I’m going to post the ones that I have a tendency to forget. I suspect these are the very ones I need to remember the most.
Then I will believe His promises are true and trustworthy. I will put all my eggs in God’s basket and trust that He will only break what must be broken to create something better in me—through me.
I am not alone. My enemy wants me to think I am, but I’m not.
I will not allow my differences with others to divide us. God is love and love is above all.
God’s love is greater than gender, political party, nationality, skin color, family structure, background, economics, location, situation, job, origin, money, title, power, or any form of man-made religion.
Regardless of our differences, we are more alike than we are dissimilar. At our core, we are very much the same and very much in need of a Savior.
I will choose to search for and emphasize our common ground and build on that.
SO NOW WHAT?
I have never approached my plans for the new year this way before, but I will definitely do it again. This list resonates with me so much more than a list of goals that’s so long I secretly know I’ll never attain. It’s more robust than just one word.
If you like my list, you are welcome to use it as well. But I would really encourage you to take 15-30 minutes and see if you sense God nudging you to focus on certain things. He’s always eager to meet us wherever we are.
If you do make your own list of Focus Actions, I’d love to hear what your list is! Share with us in the comments what you want to focus on in 2016.