I grew up in an analog world: rotary telephones, the Kodak Instamatic Camera, black and white television, rabbit ear antennas, and chalkboards. As a young student, I had my share of chalkboard duty. It was easy enough: Grab a bucket of water and sponge, then dip, wipe, and rinse . . . over and over again.
There was no glamour in this task, but the end result was beautiful. There is just something about standing in front of a clean, dust-free chalk board, holding a fresh piece of chalk in your hand.
To me, this is the picture of the New Year. For a few days it is just you, a stick of chalk, and a big clean blackboard. Go ahead and dream!
What is on your chalkboard for 2017?
- Get in shape.
- Lose 10 pounds.
- Start a new business.
- Read the Bible -- Genesis to Revelation.
- Get out of debt.
- Get engaged.
- Write a life plan.
Like many of you, I am thinking about 2017. My goals are taking shape. They include reading through God's Word, walking 1020 miles, and helping SRC rediscover community and why it matters more than ever over the next three years. I am targeting books I want to read, and a book I want to write . . .
As I step back from the chalkboard, however, I have to ask myself: "Where is God in all this?" Am I trying to wrap God around my plans or am I wrapping my plans around God? The wording is subtle, the difference is significant. Recently, I was reminded by a fellow pastor that we are not created so that God can help us achieve our purpose, but that we might accomplish His purpose for which He created us. That's a great point!
We love the satisfaction that comes from achieving our New Year's goals. But we must remember that ultimately the Prize is not a leaner body, a bigger bank account, getting a book published, or even reading through the Book! It is God being glorified in all that we do. Paul writes:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16 ESV
If you are looking for help on how to keep your eyes on the The Prize in 2017, here are three steps you can take today:
- Acknowledge Whose you are. I acknowledge God's ownership when I hold my 2017 plan in the palm of my hand and offer it up to God -- to bring him honor!
- Kiss the past good bye. Belonging to Jesus means I don't have to live in the past. Leave the 2016 failures and shortcomings on the path behind you. Forget them. The grace of Jesus is the guarantee of his love even in the face of failure.
- Press on toward the goal for the real prize. I am asking the Lord to help me understand what it means to wrap my life around Him in 2017. For that matter, what does it look like to wrap my life around him today?
It's a New Year. You've got a fresh, clean chalkboard. Dream big. Work hard. Keep your eyes on THE PRIZE!