Oh, the week between Christmas and New Year’s. That magical time where we get to dream of what the next year will look like. All the dreams and possibilities seem endless this week. Spending time looking ahead and setting goals for how I want my world to look over the next 12 months makes my heart sing.
I love to dream and create; I love setting goals and meeting them. It’s what drives me through this wonderful life. Of course, part of that planning is list making and timelines and spreadsheets. Those are the necessary evils to making my dreams come true, but to be honest, lists and timelines often weave in and out of my quest to meet those dreams throughout the year. Oddly, I typically meet my goals, just not in the original way I planned to. I’ve actually been told that I could meet my goals more efficiently if I just followed the lists and timelines, but I’ve yet to have this proven to me.
2020 will be fun to plan, with work goals, In the Whisper goals and Gifts with Grace goals there is plenty to dream about and even more to plan. The older I get, the more I want to accomplish and the bigger my dreams get. So, to make everything I want to happen in 2020, there will be lists, timelines and spreadsheets galore.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
It’s ok God, I have a plan! But have I asked if my plan look anything like His plan? Frankly, I can make all the goals and lists in the world, but ultimately God will determine what I do. He doesn’t need my checklist, my timeline or my planner. Regardless of what I think is best, His plan will happen with me or even in spite of me.
There was a time, about 25 years ago, that setting goals wasn’t actually a part of my routine. In fact, when our family was planning our move to Japan in the early 90’s, people kept giving me lists of things to do with a very specific timeline. But my daughter had pneumonia and that derailed every list, planner and timeline I was given. And you know what? Everything still got done; the house sold, the furniture was put in storage and I managed to get three children to Japan without losing anyone.
When I got to Japan, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach an English-speaking bible study to women in my community. After a couple of years of bible study, conversations and a whole lot of green tea, a couple of women chose to follow Jesus as their Savior. Despite all the worry over timelines, the stress of lists not being checked off in the worlds time, God ‘s plan was fulfilled. Not because of me though, in spite of me.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
I can set goals, make lists and fill out planners all I want, but if I am not seeking God and His kingdom first, it just doesn’t matter. If I’m not spending time with Him in His word, all those lists mean nothing. When prayer becomes secondary to planning, I become a clanging symbol. When my plans are not His plans – my plans become chaos. If I don’t sit quietly with Him, I am just adding to the noise of the world.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1
We make goals and plans because we are trying to fulfill the purpose God gave us. How often do you hear someone say, “I just don’t know God’s purpose for me?” But I would like to suggest that we all have the same purpose; to glorify God and grow His kingdom as a living sacrifice. We are constantly looking for our purpose, but it’s really simple – share Jesus and how He lived, then share Him as the only way to eternity.
Planning. Creating. Goal Setting. Yes, it’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. What if this year I have one big goal and everything else falls under that? What if my one goal is to be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God? How would that make my 2020 look?
What if I wake every morning in 2020 and say, “Lord, how do you want to use me today?” And then listen to where He is leading me. How much simpler would my life be? I’m sure there will still be some lists, timelines and planning. But if I am seeking Him, I also think He will lay those plans out as only He can do.
Are you in the midst of those lists and timelines? Before you finish them, I invite you to take some time with Jesus and find that one goal that He asks you to make that will support all of that planning you are trying to do on your own. My prayer is that you will find that goal and it will drive your entire 2020, His way. Because, after all, His way is going to be The way every time.