Finish these today.
The above picture is one I've used many times. Today it seems especially appropriate as a final thought on this last day of 2018. Three years ago the people at values.com gave me permission to use this picture and the video advertisement from which it was taken as a reference point for the finishperiod.com web site. The video inspires me to this day. Please click here to view the video clip.
So, with just a few hours remaining in 2018 I'm facing the truth that I will not complete everything I had committed to do this year. I mean, I wanted to lose twenty-five pounds over the span of 2018. But, unless someone has access to a miraculous disappearing cream that goal isn't going to happen today. Still, there are several items on my 2018 dream list that can be finalized today. Maybe on this last day of the year I will find the personal resources to finish what was started one year ago or longer.
Interestingly there's Scriptural guidance about dealing with important personal issues after a year of thought and reflection. When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian believers he reminded them to finish something that had been on their to-do list for the past year. He wrote---
And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only
to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your
readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.
2 Corinthians 8: 10-11, ESV
From the text of 2 Corinthians we now know he was referencing their decision to provide assistance to the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. He had written
2 Corinthians in part to encourage their generosity in giving aide to the Jerusalem Christians who were under severe persecution. A year had passed and evidently they had done nothing. The Apostle Paul wanted them to finish what they had started. Now, I'm sure he wasn't referring to New Year's resolutions. Still, he reminded them that a year had passed and that they should finish the important work that had moved them to make commitments a year earlier. Mmmmm. Sound familiar?
Most of us have goals and aspirations about life. Many of them are long range projects requiring our most concentrated resources. You know, like losing weight or saving money or moving up the executive ladder at work. Many however, demand only short bursts of thought and resource, a moment of attention, perhaps a phone call. These are the ones we can finish today. Maybe your list is like mine---
1. Get serious about my spiritual life.
As a Christian and retired pastor my spiritual bearings are important life elements and are usually in need of adjustment. This normally doesn't require a strict spiritual retreat regimen or months in cloistered seclusion. A simple review of my calendar, check book, the people in my personal circle, habits, devotional practices, and commitments to spiritual growth is usually sufficient to inform me of significant departures from the life of faith I have intended. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves" (2 Corinthians 13: 5, ESV). Pause for a few minutes today and reflect on your spiritual life. You're a prayer away from discovering new spiritual resources for the year ahead. Go ahead. Don't wait another year!
2. Get real about my personal relationships.
People matter. From the opening chapters of the Bible we understand that the human species needs other people. We are not programmed to live alone. But, the complexity and pace of life in this millennium pressurizes these relationships and often creates tension in them. This final day of the year is a good time to evaluate our relationships and repair those that may be broken or otherwise endangered. There are 59 "one another" passages in the Bible. They give direction to our treatment of others. I am indebted to Jeffrey Kranz and his colleagues at overviewbible.com for the excellent infographic they designed about the one another passages. Click here if you would like to review them today, the last day of 2018. Use this guide to get real about your personal relationships today. Go ahead, make that call right now.
3. Be honest about my emotional triggers.
Emotions are so volatile. And, no, we cannot avoid them. They are part and parcel of who we are. But, they are at times triggers that ignite the wrong responses to the world around us. Today I'm asking God to give me joy, peace, hope, grace, generosity, kindness, endurance and the virtues of my faith as constants in my personal interactions to an ever-changing world. Being ruled by anger, envy, jealousy, prejudice, falsehood, and other dark emotional realities can certainly add poison to my impulses about life. Yes, these toxins influence the people in my circle. But, they poison me most. Today I am reflecting on the words of Solomon, when he wrote, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, from from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23, ESV). A good, brief reminder of this last day of 2018.
Resolutions for 2019. Well, maybe. But, for now, I'm dealing with things that have been in my pending file for the past year. Like the Corinthians, I need to finish a few of the today. Right now.
Be safe and blessed as we cross the threshold of 2019.