Thursday, December 31, 2015

Years Go; Years Come

So, 2015 is about to be over. Eight hours from now, it will be over. And looking back, I must say that it has been one of the best years, if not the best year, of my entire life. I finished undergraduate college at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) in Bolivar, Missouri with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies. I moved into my first apartment (complete with three other roommates). I worked full time in Bolivar, Missouri for the SBU grounds crew all summer, before beginning my final semester there. I preached expositionally through the book of Jude at a church this past fall (sure, it’s a short book, and it took three weeks, but you’ve got to start somewhere). These were all new things. And then, I began pursuing the heart of a wonderful Christian woman whose heart for others is enviable (and we’re coming up on two months officially in about a week); this was also kind of new.
But then on a more important note, my relationship with the Lord has grown by leaps and bounds this year. I have come to understand on a much more personal level—through the books of Mark and Hebrews specifically—exactly who Jesus is and what He did and what He does now. When that reflective study ended in late May, I continued my hunt for a more intimate knowledge of Jesus by reading through each of the gospels several more times throughout the rest of the year. In reading a book on Christian meditation—puritan style—I was heavily convicted of my lack of a reflective prayer life based out of Scripture and I was pushed to improve in this area. Wouldn’t you know it, but right after my prayer life started improving, I was faced with a crisis of belief: am I a believer? does God want me to serve Him? should I be interested in a certain girl? will I ever really be out of certain sin patterns? and the list goes on. With my new found tool of praying through Scripture passages, I was able to confront those questions head on and answer them, which God used to lead me to move to a different church than the one I had been attending the previous year I had spent in Bolivar, Missouri. And as far as old sin struggles go, by the grace of God this year has been the best I’ve ever had in victory, and by the grace of Christ that victory will continue indefinitely into the future. God is good.
But despite all that, I know, and am reminded daily, that I can still continue to improve my relationship with the Lord. My prayer life can still get better. My trust in God’s provision for me can increase. My reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power as opposed to my willpower can increase. My selfishness—which comes out in all new ways, I’ve seen, when in a dating relationship—needs to die. Frustrations and anger, aimed primarily at my parents ever since high school, are unfortunately not as dead as I hoped, so I must continue murdering that sin. I also need to officially join the church I’m at in Missouri.
So the bolded phrases above are spiritual areas in which I’m called to work this next year. But on a less spiritual level, I have several other personal goals for 2016:
·         Move to Missouri officially (happening January 16)
·         Find a good job in the Bolivar-Springfield area
·         Work out regularly (focusing on upper body)
·         Keep up on this blog J
·         Write a short story every month (to keep creative juices flowing; they’ll be posted on the blog)
·         Put out a new CD before mid-March (preferably before February 29)
·         Finish at least 2 drafts (preferably 3 so it can be “done”) of my novel Stranded
·         Make headway on a huge paper (likely a book) about Romans 7:7-8:17
·         And more important than everything after finding a job: pour into the wonderful relationship God has been gracious enough to give to me at this point in my life, never forgetting to thank Him for her.
Now, lest anyone think that the last one is more important than a job, I can’t survive without a job, and I can’t ever hope to move away from being just in a dating relationship if I don’t have a job. But that’s not on my radar for 2016; I’m just going to strive to grow the friendship, seek to put selfishness in my heart to death, and by God’s grace enjoy every moment with her to the fullest capacity possible.
Well, I’ve been rambling long enough. The following lyrics inspire my prayer for 2016 (because they were playing as I tied this thing up here):
It falls, apart,
from the very start,
it falls apart,
seems like everything i touch, falls apart,
everything around me, falls apart,
when i walk away from You.
That’s Thousand Foot Krutch’s “Falls Apart,” and I’ve found it very true in my own life. More so in the last six months than ever before. If I cling to Jesus like the woman with the flow of blood in Luke 8, my faith will be strong, but if I walk away, even unintentionally, my life feels like it’s in shambles. My ultimate goal for 2016, and my prayer, is that I would go where God wants me to go, do what He asks me to do, say what He tells me to say, and love how He’s loved me.
Happy 2016!

Soli Deo Gloria

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