by GUEST BLOGGER: KATHRYN MACNEILL
Kathryn runs her own training and coaching consultancy. She helps people to explore and develop their best potential. You can read more about her in our Member of the Month feature for February.
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Recent conversations with friends and colleagues, not to mention plenty of online commentaries, have highlighted the very bad reputation that 2016 has gained itself. It doesn’t matter if you look at it from an international, national, local or personal level, so many of us have acquired a list of reasons why we are ready to shake off one year, and embrace the new – as quickly as possible, thank you very much. Do you need a fresh start too? Read on...
‘… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured…’
Hebrews 12 v 1-2a.
Have you seen the meme?
History class in the year 2100
Teacher: So, we’ve finished 2015. On to 2017!
Pupil: What about 2016-
Teacher: We don’t talk about 2016…
Recent conversations with friends and colleagues, not to mention plenty of online commentaries, have highlighted the very bad reputation that 2016 has gained itself. It doesn’t matter if you look at it from an international, national, local or personal level, so many of us have acquired a list of reasons why we are ready to shake off one year, and embrace the new – as quickly as possible, thank you very much.
Whoever the commentator, and whatever the reason why, the perspective is typically the same. ‘2016’ has delivered a bad report card, and ‘2017’ can only do better. But therein lies a problem. Because ‘2016’ is not a being. It has no life of its own. It can no more control the events of our days than we can manhandle the stars in the skies. So, whatever has happened till now, and whatever may lie ahead, staring at a calendar and telling it to pull itself together isn’t going to make a difference. Our focus needs to shift – from what happens on the outside, to what is taking place on the inside.
Our focus needs to shift – from what happens on the outside, to what is taking place on the inside.
It is – often painfully – true that there are events in everyone’s life that are outside of our control. Situations in which we find ourselves not of our own engineering and about which we have little or no capacity to change. Yet… much of our day to day does not fall into that category. Instead, the greater part of our daily lives is, in all – often painful – honesty, the product of our previous choices. The actions we have taken. The words we have spoken. The thoughts we have nursed and the habits we have nurtured. These things, under our control, are what have created much of our present and will go onto to shape much of our future.
I am not interested in mulling over the choices we have made previously. Jesus was never interested in raking up a person’s past (including ours), and neither should we be. As I read the start of Hebrews 12, I see the words come alive in my mind’s eye, creating a fresh perspective of hope in my heart. It’s an image of throwing things off shoulders, like a sudden discarding of heavy cloaks that have been worn throughout a dark winter. Heads once stooped low from carrying such burdens, now raised up, eyes set upon a new horizon. Then comes hope in action, as one foot is slowly put in front of the other, each step a little faster and stronger than the last until the realisation comes that the stumble has become a walk, has become a jog, has become a run. Finally, free. Air pushing in and out of lungs, arms pumping back and forth, as ground is quickly made across the land.
Jesus was never interested in raking up a person’s past (including ours), and neither should we be.
These verses are sandwiched between a long list of heroes in the faith – men and women who chose to follow God’s plan for their lives, whatever the cost – and the greatest hero of them all. Our brother Jesus who, by His choices to follow the path marked out before Him, became the sacrifice for our freedom. Each of them made the same decision – to listen to the voice of God, and then obey. All but Jesus were not perfect, they each made mistakes along the way. But all were ultimately counted as mighty victors for His glory.
Compare these to another group of people, fiercely loved by God and with an incredible destiny of freedom and victory ahead, who then wasted forty years wandering around a desert instead of walking straight into their promised land – all because they would not listen and they would not obey.
Our Father, who loved us enough to hand over his only Son so that we could become His children, has created a map, built a road, set a destination with each one of us in mind. Yet both sin and well-intentioned distractions can lead us to miss a crucial point. If we don’t know where we are going, if we aren’t bought into the plan that’s been laid out ahead for us, then we may travel far but never get near to what God really intended for us. I don’t know about you, but I have often been guilty of hearing the first part of God’s call and then assuming I need to work out the journey on my own. And my word, what a circuitous path I make of it, giving out time, energy and resources on things that He never intended me to focus on and delaying my enjoyment of all the good things He has in store for me. All because I wouldn’t wait and listen for His guidance.
I believe God made us with the capacity to spiritually run with the full force of the Holy Spirit at our command. And his path, whilst never promising to be easy, will always – always – be the best for us to follow. As we start a new year, let us remember that our God is a Father of forgiveness and fresh opportunities. Our God is a Brother who demonstrated wholehearted pursuit of the Father’s plans and, in doing so, made the path clear for us to follow. Our God is a holy and intimate Spirit who hears our prayers for wisdom and guidance and will illuminate the way for us to go. So, let us ask the Spirit questions and heed his advice, every day. Let us continually meditate on the Bible and seek wisdom on how to follow Jesus’ leading. And let us always stay close to our loving Father who will always encourage, guide, offer loving discipline and celebrate victories with us.
Let 2017 be the year when we experience the fullness of His freedom as we run, as we endure, as we journey on the only great path for our lives – His.
If you are ready to make some changes, why not join the She31 Bible Study group where will be launching an exciting new initiative which will REBOOT your devotional life... join by clicking on the link below: