"Did I do enough for God's Kingdom ...
Pastor Patrick Gunn
As I reflect on the previous year, one question comes to mind that seems to eclipse all others:
"Did I do enough for God's Kingdom last year “ and if not “ what more could I have done?
While I understand that the answer to this question for me (as for many of us) is and will forever be a resounding "NO, I cannot help but wonder what changes I can consider to do better this year. Where opportunities there that I missed or overlooked last year? Where people there I could have helped and ministered to that I did not? Were some around me hungry and I failed to feed them? Were injustices present that I overlooked or chose not to see? Were times available to me during which I could have truly allowed Christ's light to shine through me and I hesitated?
(This list could go on forever)
The answer to all of these and to all those unlisted is "Yes. I could have done more. I could have served more. I could have loved my neighbor more genuinely and unconditionally. I could have shared the bounty of my dinner table with those less blessed. I could have ¦ I could have ¦ I ¦ Could ¦ Have ¦ So many missed opportunities. So many chances now lost to the past.
As I write this I realize that these sentiments are not only applicable to my personal Faith Journey and discipleship, but could easily apply to so many others. We all fail and miss/ignore opportunities to live full into the Christians that Christ desires for us. We are imperfect and broken. We can be self-focused and desensitized to the needs in the world around us. We can ¦ We do ¦ and We will.
Rather than wallowing in the despair of our shortcomings and our missed opportunities, why not shift the paradigm so that we understand those lost opportunities as the chance for new awareness as we move into the future. No one can dispute the simple fact that we cannot, no matter how much we might like, change the past. The past is gone and will never return. However, we can change the direction of our future.
If we take time to reflect on the missed opportunities from 2015 with the intent to learn from them, I believe that we can begin to change the course of our future journey in Discipleship. Rather than beating ourselves up and becoming enveloped in lament, let's embrace the past. Have we fallen short at times? You better believe it! But, God's grace is sufficient. We don't have to live, forever, with a feeling of loss. On the contrary. Let's review our past, pray for God's help and guidance, and begin moving intentionally in a more fulfilling Christian direction.
2016, as with any new year, bring the possibility for each of us to change the way we make our decisions and choices. Some people do this with habits, fitness, food, or other aspect of personal life. But, I suggest that we, as children of God, prayerfully consider how we make decisions related to our faith, our mission, our service, and our discipleship. In so doing, I genuinely believe that we might experience new spiritual growth along with a new maturity is discipleship.
I hope that I can begin living into these words more this year and help them cement themselves into my core. I'm certain there will be times I may experience feelings of success and of failure. Either way, I hope I'm growing. We learn from our failures as well as our successes.
Allow the following quote to encourage and empower you as you journey further along the path of Christian Discipleship.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.