I love New Years. Always have. It is the wonderful feeling of completing something colliding with the excitement of starting a new adventure.
It is strange here, though. This country follows a different calendar. For them, it is the year 2070 and their New Year is in the spring. We, however, still choose to celebrate the international calendar New Years.
One thing we love to do for New Years is reflect on the things that happened throughout the year. We made a container for this purpose. Everyone in the family writes down memories or adventures (good and bad) from the year, minimum 10 per person. I help Gabe write his. Then we fold them up and put them in the container. On New Years Eve, they become part of the fun.
We blow up balloons and mark one for every hour from 7 PM until Midnight. When the clock strikes 7 PM, the fun begins. A child pops the balloon for that hour. Then we take turns pulling the papers from the memory container and reading a few of them each hour. After those are read, we have an activity planned for each hour: board game, charades, snacks, movie (usually divided between two hours.) At midnight, the last balloon is popped, everyone gets a New Years hug and kiss, and then off to bed.
Our time of reflection reminds me of the book of Joshua. Joshua 4:7 "Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever."
God instructed the children of Israel to set up a memorial. He wanted them to be able to look back at what God had done for them. He wanted them to reflect on the goodness of God in the past. He also wanted them to use those memorials to teach their children of God's power, grace, and goodness.
Why look back? Because looking back at what God has done strengthens our faith for what the present or future may hold. If He got us through before, He can do it again. He doesn't change.
Learn to set up memorials of God's goodness through activities like the New Years memory jar or scrapbooking or journaling or blogging or photo journaling or even Facebooking. What a blessing it is to be able to look back and reflect on those memorials! What a blessing to take your children to those memorials!
Sometimes looking back is wrong. When looking back is motivated by regret over something we left behind (treasures, sin, etc.,) it weakens our faith. It distracts us and makes us lose focus.
That's the kind of looking back that is spoken of here:
Phil 3:13 "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,"
Luke 9:62 "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
As a missionary, there is no doubt that there is a temptation to look back at the things left behind: family, friends, conveniences, traditions, life style, home church, comforts. Let's leave those things behind. Instead, look back at what God has done to bring us where we are serving. Let's look back at what He has brought us through. Look back at our salvation story and our calling story. Look back at answered prayers. Look back at the memorials to God's goodness and grace and not at the sacrifices we have made.
Look back... just make sure we are looking back at the right things.
by Charity, Southern Asia