Here’s a little lesson in how to lose all the millennials. Remember those Daytimers? OK, now let me try to get a few of you back by clarifying what they were. Daytimers were little handheld, leather binders filled with dated pages for notes, an alphabetized address book, and calendars with space for appointments and related details, and sometimes with electronic wonders like solar-powered calculators. They had side pockets where you could tuck vital resources like business cards and really important stuff like discount coupons for your favorite coffee shop. Daytimers were hugely popular in the bygone days when people actually wrote things on paper. They were the “gotta-have-one” gadget that could magically transform otherwise ordinary people like me into paragons of organizational efficiency and the very image of cutting-edge business professionalism–for at least the better part of the first month after we go them.
The Daytimer had a basic flaw. It didn’t have the capacity to actually make us do any of the stuff we wrote in it. In spite of that, we’d still get excited in late December, which marked the time to replace the “contents.” That meant we got to remove the old calendar with all its notes and reminders of stuff we didn’t get done all year, file them out of sight somewhere, and start over. We got to silence its nagging voice and, at least for a few minutes, reduce it to a piece of empty cowhide–no more heralding past failures, no more upcoming deadlines to plague us, and no extravagant projections of lifestyle changes we’ll never actually experience. For me, filing the old set of contents was almost exhilarating, mainly because I knew I’d never look at them again.
Filing the Past? Not a Wise Thing ~
The relief felt good, but ignoring the previous year wasn’t a wise thing to do. While I’m pretty sure none of you are still carrying a Daytimer, your record of last year is still around in some smart phone, digital tablet, or computer just waiting to spill its guts about everything. That cumulative report of “the good, the bad, and the ugly” is lurking behind a screen somewhere, and ignoring it as we open a fresh, clean, uncluttered set of calendar pages isn’t a wise thing. I’m confident of that because there’s a principle in it that God wanted us to see. He used the Apostle Paul to point it out in his second letter to the Corinthians, and said it this way:
And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 2 Corinthians 8:10-12 (NKJV)
The original context of Paul’s comment had to do with the church’s intention to send a financial offering to support other believers in distressing circumstances, but the principle behind it is relevant to us. As we contemplate our goals and dreams at the beginning of a new year, Paul’s admonition is worth considering because it has the same positive potential for now as it had for the Corinthians back then.
Several things are significant in this bit of inspired advice.
- Paul wasn’t encouraging them to engage in some nostalgic reflections of the ups and downs of the prior year. He wasn’t looking for a year-end review of all they experienced in the last 12 months. He wanted them to focus specifically on the commitment they made to God and to others a year ago.
- Further, he suggested that even though their plan was a year old and was never carried out, their past statements mattered. That meant their vision for the future didn’t begin with a blank page. Rather than an empty calendar waiting for new promises, they were to begin the new year with a fresh commitment to complete what they started.
- Paul’s advice was an invitation for them to do more than just remember what they said. It was an invitation to revisit the desires they felt when the original commitment was made. It wasn’t enough to simply look at the plan they developed. It was important that they return to the moment and reignite the passion that motivated them then. Applying the strength of that same compelling spirit would enable them to turn last year’s failure into next year’s achievement.
- Finally, he said that they were not to put it off any longer. They were not to just wait around to see if their circumstances improved before moving ahead. Goals are achieved through the application of what we have, not through daydreams of things we don’t have and may never get.
Relevant Questions ~
We may be far removed from Corinth, but God’s reaction to their situation is worth taking a moment to consider as we prepare to rip off the last page of our calendars once again. The question is simple. What did we commit to God and/or others that we were going to do last year that didn’t get done? Is where we are now, spiritually and otherwise, where we envisioned ourselves to be a year ago? If not, Paul’s suggestions are worth applying.
- Nevermind the random ups and downs, did we make specific commitments, and did we do what we said we were going to do?
- If so, it’s time to realize that even though the promises, plans, and stated intentions might be a year old, the words we said back then still matter. They matter to us, to the people we said them to, and they matter to God.
- Our new year doesn’t begin with a blank page. It begins with last year’s unfinished objectives.
- It’s vital that we don’t begin with a somber realization of failure, but by reigniting the passion and re-energizing the spirit that we felt when we made those plans last year. That shifts the focus and makes everything we wanted to do back then fresh and new now.
- Finally, there’s nothing to wait for. The God who put the hope, the dream, the vision in your heart back then has already given you all you need to accomplish it. We only need to apply what we have and get started again. If anything is lacking, He will supply it as we need it.
Noteworthy Impact–Exciting Potential ~
The believers in Corinth heeded Paul’s advice and did what they said they were going to do. They moved ahead and acted with what they had rather than waiting for something they hoped they would get later. In the end, the Corinthians were strengthened and blessed by their successful accomplishment, the needs of others were supplied, God was honored, and 2,000 years later, you and I are encouraged–not a bad payoff. Won’t it be interesting to see what happens with Paul’s piece of advice as we apply it in the coming year?
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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