The new year morning started quiet with the stillness of a bitter crisp cold. The sky is a white grey covering over the white frosty colorless ground. The only movement is the constant flutter of birds at the feeder and the consistent flow of the pond water fall. Both seem to mock the power of the deep freeze.
As I sit on my enclosed porch in front of the corner stove, with fragrant candles lit and warm tea in my cup I am content with the comfort of my senses. I am poised to ponder this dawning of a new year. The freshness of the possibilities of a new forward can form feelings of hope and anticipation.
I choose to focus forward and not fall failing frozen into my failures of last year. I can indeed embrace my failures and learn from each experience but I will not be defined or dwell on those failures. Paul expresses this mindset in Philippians 3:13 (NLT)
…..I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,
“Strain forward” or “reaching out for things that lie ahead” are words of other translations. To forget the past, look forward, strain forward and reach out for things ahead is the one focus I choose to take for this new year. What would be the components of a forward focus?
The book My One Word, by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, describes the positive impact of the focus one word had on the lives of people dedicated to live with an awareness of their chosen one word for the year. The book is an inspiration to read on the importance of focus. As I focus on how to move forward I narrowed down my plan to 4 words: To ASSIMILATE, APPRECIATE, ABIDE and ACT
ASSIMILATE is the mental “absorbing of”, “soaking up”, “taking in” understanding of your world. That includes not only the physical but your emotional and spiritual world as well. To take time to be balanced in assimilating information through not just your intellect but your 5 senses as well. To be AWARE, mindful. Inner and outer world. Inner world of your emotion which is based on feelings and not fact. The inner world of God’s truths and His presences, His indwelling in your soul. The outer world of others in your life. How are they impacting you inner world? Your inner world interprets your outer world. How accurate is your assimilation of your interpretation? Understand your talents and strengths. Allow yourself to be creative. Explore, discover and learn about yourself, God and others. Be open. Be accepting. Be willing to learn. “Reach out, Strain and Look FORWARD to what lies ahead.”
APPRECIATE is to have gratitude. The biology of the mind and body improves with gratitude. The growth and strength of our spiritual formation improves with gratitude. Gratitude is directly tied to joy and contentment. Appreciation of God’s given Grace can enlighten the assimilation of our understanding as we press forward to become the best of who we are…the best of me. The attitude of appreciation is a powerful force as we “Reach out, Strain and Look FORWARD to what lies ahead.”
ABIDE is a multifaceted meaningful word. It means to wait and watch for, to endure and accept, to be persistent and carry on to never cease, denoting forward movement. If I was to choose one word, this would be the one.The action of assimilating and appreciating will require the constant endurance of abiding. Abiding with heart, soul, mind and strength to “Reach out, Strain and Look FORWARD to what lies ahead.”
ACT is to just DO IT! The fruit of active assimilation, appreciation and abiding fully in this life will be the activation of the good work that God has begun is us. (Philippians 1:6) To purposefully follow through to completion the reality of the fruit of the Spirit. There is a cost to service, a sacrifice, that will build our faith and trust as we enfold God’s love into the lives of others. To serve others with our love, talents, time, money will be require us to “Reach out, Strain and Look FORWARD to what lies ahead.”
What is the goal to reaching out, straining and looking forward and not look back? The following verse in Philippians 3:14 says (NIV)
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What would be your goal for 2015? To have more career success, money, less weight, better marriage, happy kids etc. The ultimate goal for God’s children is to show the world His love. This can be done through the example of our lives when we are not frozen in our failings, but instead faithful in our forward movement toward assimilating, appreciating, abiding and acting according to our hope in the what lies ahead.
The frozen world outside my window finds life in only the things that keep moving. Like the constantly moving water and the persistent feeding of birds we must keep moving forward, trusting in our God. The following scripture and song will be an encouragement as we move forward.
Psalms 29 (NLT)
Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings;
honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
2 Honor the Lord for the glory of his name.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord echoes above the sea.
The God of glory thunders.
The Lord thunders over the mighty sea.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord splits the mighty cedars;
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon’s mountains skip like a calf;
he makes Mount Hermon leap like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes
with bolts of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the barren wilderness quake;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists mighty oaks
and strips the forests bare.
In his Temple everyone shouts, “Glory!”
10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
The Lord blesses them with peace.
Look forward to the what lies ahead as we walk upon the waters of this new year!