When I reflect on my past year, some of the things I prayed for and planned for did come about. Yet many things were unexpected. One of my co-pastors became very unwell. Many people joined the church and some people left. Many things, both large and small, happened that I could never have known in advance. It makes me humble knowing that I have far less control over my life than I often think I do.
As you reflect on 2023, how did your year turn out? How do you judge if it is a good year or a bad year? One measure is financial: did you meet your budget or your goals? Another is by achievement: did you get everything done that you hoped to? These are the kinds of things that are easily measured. We know when we have met these goals.
Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, many of the things that happened in the past year we didn’t plan or expect. We probably were unwell at some stage. We might have lost a job or had an unexpected job offer. Any number of things might have happened that we could never have known in advance.
It is like James reminded his readers of when it came to planning:
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
(Jas. 4:13-16 ESV)