If this is the first blog or article that you've read about the new year, or how you should approach 2019, I'd be surprised. I'm well aware that, given that I'm writing this in January, the majority of people use this time of year to reflect on the year past, and set themselves up for the year ahead.
I probably don't have anything new to tell you (in fact, I'm about to use other people's ideas and thoughts throughout this article), but hopefully in sharing my approach to this practise of “starting the year off right”, you might be inspired to do so too.
You see, I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. In my early 20's I liked to celebrate New Year's Eve (my last such memorable occasion was actually in New York City, on a rooftop, watching the famous ball drop and having one too many cocktails), but in the last three years since being pregnant and having a baby (now a toddler), I haven't even stayed up until midnight (not including being up in the middle of the night for late night feeds).
The last three years have come and gone, and I've barely even considered that a new year has started. Perhaps it's because honestly, having a baby rocked my world in ways I didn't expect.
I didn't know how sleep deprived I would be, how hard it would be to get out of the house but how desperately I would want company. I didn't know the toll it would take on my marriage, my body, our finances and our home. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE being a mum. It is without a doubt the hardest, but best thing I've ever done.
But I would be lying if I said that that first year especially, I was just doing what I had to do to get through the day (and those long sleepless nights).
My now two year old daughter suddenly sleeps through the night, is very easygoing, and as a stay at home mum we have found a rhythm that makes our life exciting, enjoyable, and honestly just a lot of fun. The joy of our routine means we both get time to rest during the day, and for me, time to reflect.
As someone who has always enjoyed being productive, and having “stuff” to do, I decided that the beginning of 2019 was a good time to proactively think about what things I would like to achieve, how I can better manage our home and finances, how I can be more physically active, and of course how I could intentionally seek Jesus this year.
This has already resulted in several alarms throughout the day, reminding me to to do something physical, or to have some devotional time. It has also had me jump on the tidying up bandwagon, along with many others (Marie Kondo anyone?), as I work at getting our home in order.
These are all good things, great things in fact. I have already found a lot of joy in living a more active lifestyle, and I appreciate the peace in coming home to a less cluttered, more enjoyable living space. I was sure that less than a month into the new year, I was all over it.
It was about the third Sunday of January when the associate pastor at our church, Dylan, was preaching on the one thing we really need to ask ourselves as we look ahead in 2019. The question he posed is, “how can I know God more deeply?”
It's all well and good for me to do the things I'm doing, to clean our home, to organise our paperwork, to go for a walk every day. I should do those things for sure! But if in my day to day life, even in the cleaning, I don't address that one important question, it's all meaningless.
“Meaningless, meaningless! What do people gain from all their labours which they toil at under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes chapter one verses two-three).
The wise teacher and writer of Ecclesiastes works his way through twelve chapters of content, exploring “everything under the sun”, and whether or not it will bring meaning and fulfilment. He discusses how work is good, how we can gain joy from labouring, from wisdom, from relationships. But are those things the most important? No, if we believe what the Bible says is true, they're not.
The only thing that really matters, is if we know God.
See, I believe that to know God, I need to get to know the person of Jesus Christ. I believe that not only is Jesus fully man, but also fully God. That means, that everything I need to know about God, I can discover in the life and person of Jesus Christ.
I think that's pretty mind blowing! Especially because Jesus did lots of mundane things. He had a childhood. He learnt a trade. He studied at temple. And I'm convinced, that as he did those things, even the most human of things, he was “knowing God”. Worshipping Him, seeking Him, being Him.
How can I know God more deeply?
As I think about my goals for this year, all those good things, I am now aware that they are meaningless if they don't have in mind the ultimate goal: to know God more deeply. To seek, in all things, to glorify Jesus, and reflect his love to the world.
What does that look like? It means as I clean our home, I don't do it as a chore, but because I deeply love my family, and I am beyond grateful for all that we have. It means that as I declutter, instead of throwing away something that is totally fine, (which is bad for the environment, and a waste of my resources), I look for ways to give that thing a new home, hopefully even to someone in need.
It means that as Lucy and I go for a walk in our beautiful bushland neighbourhood, we actively give thanks for the bodies we have, and the presence of God in the nature around us.
Of course, and this is the hardest part for me, it also means time to be still. Time to turn off those alarms, turn off my own (never-ending) thoughts, and abide with Jesus. To learn that quiet art of “remaining with” him, because without him, I can do nothing (John chapter fifteen verses four to five).
It's only January, so check back in with me in twelve months time, but I hope and pray that in all I say and do this year, I would know God more deeply, and that as a result, my life might look a little more like Jesus'.
Jess is married to Colin, and they have a two year old daughter, Lucy. Together they are striving to live like Jesus every day, by loving God, loving people, and serving the world with joy. Jess Curries’ previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jess-currie.html.