As I contemplate 2012, I am reminded of many previous years that have come and gone. In my short 45 years, there have been many significant moments. I remember the first consumer calculator, the first PC (my current cell phone has more power that it did), the birth of satellite communications, Reagan being shot, Perestroika, the fall of the Berlin wall, Y2K, 9-11, the collapse of the tech bubble, followed by the housing bubble, etc. Life has certainly been exciting!
Today, as I ponder the start of my second year in Finland, I look at where I am personally, and then my family and the world. It is amazing how one’s perspective shifts. How can I bring betterment to each aspect of my life? What can I do to improve my world? What can I do to improve my family or myself?
I once heard a poem that talked about changing the world. It concluded that the only way to change the world was to change oneself. This is so true. The influence of my life is the only real method I have to impact others. I cannot cause my daughters to grow spiritually if I do not live a spiritual life in front of them. I cannot lead my wife in growth if I am not consistently working to better myself. The world around me will not follow me, as I follow Jesus, if they do not see Jesus in my actions. It all starts with me… and you.
As time marches forward, one must continually access one’s priorities. The other day, Glenda & I were talking about how one must fight the “time thieves.” We all have them. It does not take me long to determine mine. To be honest, it probably would not take you long to determine mine either. Try as we may, our charade becomes transparent with even the smallest amount of scrutiny. In the previous paragraph, I mentioned things that I want to see in my life. I want my family to be spiritually strong leaders, but am I one? The dawn of a new year is a time of retrospect. It is estimated that less than 10% of all New Year’s resolutions are kept. I don’t want my family to suffer from my being in the 90%. I must continually improve!
Last year was one of challenge and change. Our lives were in constant flux. This year will be one of stability, and that stability must be built upon purposeful spiritual growth. Last year, much of our lives came to us by surprise because of the unknowns of living in a new country. It was a time of growth through immediate adjustment. This year must have a purposeful plan that brings growth in areas that are not under immediate pressure. Otherwise, our “spiritual muscles” will not be properly proportioned. Last year, much of our time was spent simply treading water. This year, we must purpose to swim in the deep waters of the Spirit.
You see, while our circumstances are not the same, you and we are still much the same. We all have the desire to improve. The unanswered question is, “Will we?” Will we befriend the neighbor that we rarely see? Will we become genuinely interested in our classmates? Will we be an encourager like the Samaritan, or walk on the other side like the priest and Levite?
I have often made the comment, “I am the only Jesus that many people will see.” Today, I ask myself, “If I am the only Jesus someone may see, what are they seeing?” Are they seeing a compassionate Jesus, or a cold, cruel Jesus? Are they seeing a strong Jesus, or a weak Jesus? Are they seeing a healing Jesus, or one who is impotent? Are they seeing a saving Jesus, or a judging Jesus? Are they seeing a friendly Jesus, or a rude Jesus?
I want to echo the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” I want my world to see the real Jesus, not an imposter!
2012. A year of purpose.