It’s 11:18 p.m. and I’m about to close the books on 2018.
I just completed my 105th book review of the year, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership In Turbulent Times. While this review writing has been a year-long effort, coming into the home stretch I was trailing badly. I’ve spent the better part of this day at my desk ensuring I would reach my goal.
Of course, it was reading that necessitated those reviews. In January I set out to read 105 volumes of that library of which John tells us “there is no end.”
If you want an interesting look, click here for a visual overview of my 2018 reading life. Or you can walk over to onmywalk.com, my reading website, to peruse the reviews, listen to podcasts, or find links to purchase the works through Amazon.
If it seems I keep track, I do. Keeping score helps me keep pace. This year I . . .
Walked 1131 miles.
Wrote some 350 notes to kids and grands.
Preached multiple times.
Taught one Master’s class and one doctoral seminar.
Yes, 2018 was a very good year. Shannan and I welcomed our twentieth grandchild into this world. We celebrated thirty-eight years of marriage. We were able to give more financially to the Lord’s work than ever before. And this day marks the completion of twelve years of ministry with the wonderful family of Spanish River Church.
And yet, not one bit of that made me any more acceptable in God’s eyes.
Paul asked the Corinthians a very important question, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). The answer of course is “nothing.”
Were Paul to turn over that coin, he would say it this way: Everything you have is a gift from God. Or as he writes to the Ephesians:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making know to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV
New Year’s Day is the time we can look back and congratulate ourselves if we have “done well” (by whatever yardstick we measure) or looking ahead, comfort ourselves with all we hope to achieve.
That’s not a bad thing. God numbered his people. Solomon valued hard work. And Paul was not afraid — at times — of cataloging his efforts.
But before I look back or look ahead — and certainly before I allow that evil sideways glace to compare my efforts with those of another — I must stop. I must rest.
He has blessed me in Christ with every spiritual blessing.
He chose me before time began.
He made me his adopted son or daughter.
He lavished his grace upon me through the work of Jesus for me.
He knows the end from the beginning. He alone is bringing it to completion.
So look back and look ahead. But first, look up and give thanks. Then sit back and rest. It’s Christ’s accomplishments on your behalf — not yours for him — that win favor in God’s eyes.
That’s a wrap!