New Year Contemplations
Annually around this time there is much discussion about resolutions, doing new things, creating new habits, doing old things differently. The New Year is a time to ponder a fresh start in a relationship, health changes, taking on a new task or just finishing something left undone. Why not? Take time before the end of 2013 to reflect on the past year and think about what “new” things could add to your life in the coming year. Use the list that Solomon made when he talked about the “seasons” of our lives in Ecclesiastes chapter 3. Read verses 3:1-8.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
As you read these lines and think about what they mean, give weight to each phrase. This is a good help for evaluating your soul. Turn the lines into questions. What do you need to have birthed in you? Joy, forgiveness? To die in you? Animosity, greed? What do you need to kill in your life? That one seems troublesome, but is there something you must really destroy in yourself – resentment, for example? Maybe you need to destroy a practical thing, maybe a photo that represents a relationship you need to abandon. Is there something you need to keep? A friend that you have not really appreciated? Is there something you need to hate? Could it be your longing for things that others have that you cannot afford? Is there a time for war? Do you need to declare a war on gossip in your life?
After you spend time contemplating these things, see if something emerges in your spirit. If it does, offer it in prayer to God for guidance about how to see this happen in 2014. Consider sharing this with a friend/prayer partner/family member to help you be accountable in moving in that “new” direction. God will bless the efforts of your heart.
Julie Taylor is Executive Secretary for the Office of Children, Youth and Family Advocacy of United Methodist Women.