See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16
The last week of each year tends to become the lost week.
Have you noticed? Once we turn the corner of Christmas, everything blurs. From December 26 to January 2 we slip into a state of “hyper-holiday suspended animation.” As far as truly fruitful living is concerned, we might as well have spent the week on Mars.
I’ve prepared a list of suggested activities to allow you to keep enjoying the spirit of the holidays, while still making solid use of those transitional days. Lord willing, these suggestions will help keep the blur out and the focus in! This week–call it “Countdown Week” as we approach the New Year–you might give a day or a part of one to any or all of the following.
1. Fast and pray.
Skip a meal (or two or three) and seek the Lord. This isn’t a “religious” exercise, it’s a realistic one. It prioritizes seeking His face, observes a proven, powerful, spiritual discipline and (for some of us) breaks the “feast” routine of the season. Give your body, soul, and spirit a break!
2. Read a large book in the Bible.
Get a running start on your goal of reading through the Word in the new year. It takes about three to four minutes to thoroughly read an average page in the Bible. Take two to four hours and read a Bible book all the way through. Genesis covers sixty-three pages in my Bible (about three to four hours) and Revelation’s twenty-one chapters (about an hour and a half). Pick your own size book, taken an evening or afternoon, and feast there!
3. Undress the house
Many of us celebrate Christmas with festive decor and few (if any) suprass what Anna does at our place! Some years ago we learned the wisdom (at least for us!) of getting the Christmas dressings “undressed” by New Yer’s Day. It puts a fresh face on everything and emotionally gears you to walk into the year without feeling you’re already behind–still trying to finish off the old one.
4. Send thank-you notes and letters.
Don’t be forgetful of a commonly neglected but much-appreciated practice. The briefest note of thanks or letter of warmth and love at this season speaks volumes! Take the time necessary. Let people know you appreciate them…and their gift too.
5. Set aside time for “fullness.”
As appropriate as holiday celebration is, it’s very natural to find yourself drained by all the action and activity. A dullness or listless apathy may besiege the soul at this time of year, unless…unless we seek the Lord for a refreshing and refulling of His Spirit.
Loose ends tend to fly in the breeze as year-end winds blow. Take a couple of hours, sit down with a notebook, and ask the Lord to help you think of things which need to be tabulated for future action. Pay special attention to those nagging, left-over, still-to-do things from last year’s list. Who wants to drag a cloud of unease and uncertainty into the bright, fresh days of the new year? Zeroing in on these long-neglected items can help blow the fog away as you step over the threshold of January 1. No, we will never get everything done. But somehow, just knowing what is left and listing it on paper gives a sense of completion and closure. It’s an act that removes guilt and opens the way to positive action.
Don’t wander down from a bright Christmas mountaintop into a swamp of indecision, lethargy, and wasted opportunity. When that first Christmas was over, Joseph heard the words of the Lord’s angel and took immediate action, saving the life of the Child.
That’s what I want to do: Listen for His voice and then do what He says without doubt or procrastination. There’s no telling how far you might go this year with that kind of head start!
The Upward Call
Hear the Upward call of the Master;
Lift your eyes and you will see
New horizons appear,
and the challenge is clear,
Come and climb the heights with me.
Never let your heart be shackled
by affections earthly bound.
Follow Christ today
up the narrow way
That leads to higher ground.
From Come…and Behold Him! Copyright 1995 by Jack W. Hayford. Published by Multnomah Books. (Out of print.)