"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
As I'm writing this, there are about fifteen days left of 2020. Hooray! There are no promises that things will be easier at the beginning of next year, but won't it feel good to just be done with 2020? But, I want to encourage you to not waste these last few days! It might be tempting to write them off, knowing that the holidays will be different than any other year, or maybe you're disappointed as you look back and see all the goals that you didn't reach. Keep going strong!
When I was a teacher, one of my mottos at the end of every school year was "Finish Well." i was always exhausted after teaching for so many months with only a few breaks, and the end of the year meant finishing grades, cleaning the classroom for the summer months, finishing the yearbook, graduation, and more. I didn't want to do anything except relax, but I had to get things done, and I wanted to get them done well!
Maybe as you look back at 2020, you see all the bad, all the negativity, but take some time to focus on the positive things that happened. There has to be something good that happened in your life. You may have to dig deep, but look for the good.
As you look back, you may also see goals that you didn't reach. I know I set goals last January that with the stay-at-home orders, I honestly could not achieve. But, don't dismiss your goals! You have a few days to start on them or simply put them on your list 2021.
In a few months, let's look back at 2020 and say, "we have fought the good fight, we have finished the race, and we have kept the faith!"
What are your priorities?
I think this year has been good at reminding us to prioritize. What are the non-negotiables in our lives? When almost everything closed down, most of us had a chance to have a clean slate schedule. We didn't have to choose.
But, now that things are opening back up, what are your priorities? What have you put back on your schedule? Have you put anything back solely based on habit?
We have a unique opportunity to keep examining our priorities and schedules. It's okay to say 'no.' It's okay to say 'not now.'
What are your excuses?
I know that there are some things in our lives that we just don't want to do. Maybe someone asks us to help with something or we have to go to an event, and we just simply don't want to. But, instead of being honest and saying so, we often come up with an excuse of why we "can't." Wouldn't it be easier to just say what we're thinking instead of a white lie?
I think it's very important to prioritize, especially during this time, when we want to keep ourselves, our families, and others safe. We want to make wise decisions. The problem comes when we make up an excuse or use our circumstances as a scapegoat.
Unfortunately, hasn't COVID provided the perfect scapegoat if we don't want to do something? I know some people are honestly concerned, but let's not pretend we are concerned in order to back out of doing things, interacting with others, or just simply living.
My challenge for you is to start thinking of the real reasons, the honest truth reasons, before you say no to something, and communicate that reason instead of making up an excuse.
Luke 10:38-42 NIV
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So, you're sitting in your kitchen, and your friend comes over. You want to be a good hostess so you offer her a cup of something cold to drink. You open the cupboard, grab a clean pitcher and a glass, and start to pour, right? No. First, you have to fill up the pitcher with water, ice, and maybe even some iced tea or drink mix, and then you pour. This is pretty obvious. If you didn't do this, you'd just be giving her a glass of air. So, why do we try to pour ourselves out in serving before we fill ourselves up?
Serving is good. Helping others is good. But, you can spend sixty plus hours of your week serving and helping without spending a minute of time in prayer and in God's Word. Anyone can serve. Anyone can donate money to a good cause, but if we're serving for serving's sake, we're missing the point.
In the story of Mary and Martha, it says that preparations had to be made. Jesus doesn't say that serving and preparing were bad things to do, He just says that the better thing to do, the best thing to do, was to sit and spend time with Him. Martha was so worried about getting everything done, but don't you think if she were to sit with Mary and listen to Jesus for awhile, that He would be faithful to help them get everything done? All the preparations would be made, and they wouldn't be emberassed or lacking as hostesses? After all, he fed thousands with minimal food and had some to spare.
If we serve or help others, we should do it because it's the right thing to do, but we should also do it to point them to Christ and His unconditional love for them. If we're not taking care of ourselves and our spiritual growth, it's going to be really hard to speak truth when the opportunity arises.
On the other hand, if we're filling, filling, filling, without ever trying to pour ourselves out in serving others, we're growing closer to God, but we're missing one of His main points in loving others. We're learning, but not applying. We need to find the balance between serving and seeking.
As you examine your life, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you are keeping a good balance. Some may be a little difficult to digest, but we need to be honest with ourselves.
I started journalling several years ago, and it changed my devotional time! I went from sitting for a couple minutes, getting distracted, and then moving on to something else, to relaxing, focusing, and establishing a rhythm of devotion and prayer.
When I journal, it's not simply putting my thoughts down as I vent and process my life, but I journal my prayers. I have journals filled with prayers of simple requests, big heartfelt wishes, and just discussions with God about what's on my heart.
Here are three things I've learned while journaling:
I encourage you to consider journaling your prayers, especially if you have trouble focusing, and see how it impacts your prayer life. And, you're the only one reading your journals, so you don't have to worry about penmanship!
Looking for a new journal? Check out My Waiting and Praying Journal on Amazon.