New decade, new goals, new hope...

2009 was a tough year for me. The mix of so many changes left me nearly spinning. Some good changes, but some hard ones too. A new career with lots of wonderful responses to my first book, a new address for our two oldest sons, a new educational direction for our youngest son, new job expectations for my dear hubby, and new health issues for both of my parents. I'm thinking I would rather not repeat 2009. If I could choose, I would not put myself through as many changes. But then I realized that it is not the changes that trouble me so much as my attitudes with regard to them. I've done a lot of grieving this year, and I don't want to repeat that. That's not to say I won't be faced with loss in 2010 - just that I want to set my focus more on things above, not so much on the here and now. Life is about so much more than what I'm experiencing here.

I was reminded of this in church yesterday. Our pastor talked about spiritual growth in 2010. He said it would be tragic if we end 2010 as the same person we were in 2009. If our spiritual condition doesn't grow and change this year, if we stay the same as we are in our relationship with Jesus from this year to the next, if we don't grow in faith and knowledge of Him, if we don't love Him more and aren't more obedient then than we are now, that will be a sad thing. He's right.

The truth is, life is hard. It demands tough things of us. Education, careers, relationships - whatever is worth doing takes effort, sometimes herculean effort! Faith, sacrifice, obedience - they're not easy. Love, marriage, parenting - those things are worth every effort we make, every struggle, every gain, every loss. But they also involve continual change, growth, trust.

To grow and change spiritually takes discipline, determination, and choice. If we want to know God, we have to make a concentrated effort to do so - as we do in any relationship. Spend time with Him, praying, studying His Word, worshiping Him, serving Him as we serve others.

Our pastor said he built a prayer room in his basement and hopes to wear knee holes in the carpet this year. He asked us if any of us could say we'd prayed too much this past year? (That evoked a chuckle from the crowd.) Of course, he is right. We all need a more fervent prayer life. I know I do.

I also need to trust more, to keep my focus on Jesus, on a better country, on a city not made with human hands, on the new Jerusalem and heaven and the hope of His return. As I stood in church worshiping yesterday, I was struggling with emotion - that mom adjustment thing of letting go again because we'd just sent the two oldest back to California the day before. As I tried to keep my heart engaged in the music, I sensed the Lord whisper in my ear, "I am coming soon." Those words always give my heart a thrill, but to have them come out of the blue (we were not singing a song on that subject) felt like an spiritual touch. It was as though He wanted to remind me that there is always hope. (Funny, as I write this a song is playing in the background with the words, "We are waiting, anticipating, Your arrival...We want to be with you."

Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

A new decade will bring new challenges. But it will also bring new goals, new hope. (Will Jesus return in this new decade? I hope so!)

In the meantime, I have an earthly list of things I want to accomplish, like de-cluttering my house and getting it ready to move within a few years or so. I also want to prepare a new series to propose to my editor, while I work diligently to make a new daily word count in order to finish Sarai's first draft by mid-year. There is much to work toward to complete the work God has prepared for me to do and much to experience, both good and bad.

But while I pursue the life God has given, I love that promise of His hope. The last promise He left us with in Revelation. I've read enough of the Old Testament to know - God keeps His promises. He will keep this one too.

He is coming soon! Selah~

PersonalJill Eileen Smith