Backward and Forward

…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – Philippians 3:13-14 

Janus was the ancient Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, passages and endings. Quite the portfolio, don’t you think? He was usually depicted as having two faces, looking back at the past and looking forward into the future. 

The month of January was named after Janus. This is the time of year when we look back to reflect on the year behind us, and look forward to the year ahead. Setting aside some time for this kind of reflection allows us to learn from the past and move into the future we greater focus and intentionality. 

Here are two simple but powerful questions worth reflecting on as we prepare to leave 2018 behind and move into 2019: 

  1. As you reflect back on your life in 2018, what’s the most important lesson you learned? This is a challenging question for many of us because we’re so busy planning for the future that we don’t pause to reflect on what life is teaching us in the moment. So, take a little time to play back the last year like a movie in your mind. What did you learn about yourself in this past year? 
  1. As you prepare to move into 2019, what one habit could you form that, if you did it regularly, would have a powerful and positive impact on your life? We often underestimate the cumulative power of a single, daily habit to transform us. For instance, by eating 150 fewer calories per day (about one cookie) you could lose over 15 pounds in 2019. So what habit in your physical, social, emotional or spiritual life could you form daily that could transform your life for the better? Write it down and commit to it. (If you use Evernote, click here to check out their template for habit formation) 

Invite the Holy Spirit to join you in reflecting on these two questions, and be open to the “nudge” of the Spirit within. Don’t stop with the first answer that comes to mind, Dwell in silence for a few minutes, listening deeply. 

These aren’t merely questions for self-improvement, though improving yourself is good stewardship of your life. You are part of something so much bigger than yourself. You’re a part of God’s movement to make God’s dream for this world a reality. Through you, God seeks to bring love, peace, justice and hope. Being the best YOU is the best thing you can do for God’s work in the world! 

My New Year’s wish is that you and I might come to better understand how our lives fit like puzzle pieces into the bigger picture of God’s work in the world, giving our lives a deeper sense of purpose and greater joy. 

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN 

PS – join us for a new worship series entitled “Called” beginning January 5-6, 2019 at Prince of Peace as we explore how God is uniquely calling you into God’s work in the world!

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