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“3 … 2 … 1 … HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Fireworks boomed and lit the sky; the sound of noisemakers and cheers almost drowned out “Auld Lang Syne” blasting over the speakers; couples were kissing, and tons of phones were held high amidst the sea of two hundred thousand people in downtown Nashville. And just like that, we were ushered into not just a new year, but a new decade: 2020. I looked at all the unfamiliar faces around me and wondered what they were pondering after we just experienced this huge celebration of new together.
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. Too much pressure comes with them. They don’t leave any room for mistakes. You’re expected to stop doing something bad and never do it again or start doing something good and never stop. Then when you do slip up, you’re tempted to throw in the towel and go right back to the way things were before the new year. Try as we might, efforts to change ourselves through sheer willpower will always fall short, because what we truly need is deeply-transformative change of our innermost beings.
Sure, we can diet and exercise and create goals to not spend as much time on our phones, and we might even have a little bit of success! But real lasting change only happens from the inside out, and that’s the work of Jesus. The change comes when we realize that our puny efforts to change aren’t enough unless they are coupled with the power of an Almighty God. As we focus more on Him, He works in us to bring out the person He so carefully created us to be. Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (CSB). What if, instead of focusing so much on ourselves trying to be better people, in 2020, we poured all our efforts into getting to know the Creator who holds the blueprints of our lives in His hands?
There are so many ways to do this, but I’m going to give you five ways to shift your focus from yourself to Jesus in 2020:
- Carve out time for Him. The only way to really know Jesus (or anyone, for that matter) is to spend time with Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Read His Word. This is crucial to having a relationship with Jesus. Because it’s so important the enemy will work doubly hard to keep us from it. Don’t let him. Time with God will look differently for everyone, but it has to include two things: praying and reading His Word. If it doesn’t, you might as well call it self-reflection. You will never know what God’s plans are for you if you don’t leave room to hear from Him. Spend time with Jesus daily. Let Him dictate how you go about your day instead of telling Him your plans.
- Get out of your comfort zone. If we only did things we were already good at, we would never learn anything new. Try to refrain from doing only things that come easily to you. Challenge yourself. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” God loves using the unlikely for His work. The weaker we are, the more we have to lean on the Lord. Don’t let fear hold you back. Not only will God sustain you if He’s called you to do something, but He will also show out in a big way and allow you to be along for the ride.
- Be willing to be held accountable. We are human, and the world is full of temptation. Find yourself some friends you can be honest with, friends who will hold you accountable. Make sure they’re the kind of friends who don’t just tell you what you want to hear, but who will help you course correct when you may not be making the best decisions. They’re the kind of friends who really love you and want to see you be successful in this Christian life. That’s different from friends who are simply prideful and find joy in calling out what’s wrong in others. You’ll be able to tell the difference. Proverbs 27:6 tells us, “The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.”
- Stop comparing. It’s so easy to look at those around us and justify our behavior based on what they are doing or not doing. We can become jealous and put ourselves down for not living up to how someone else is doing, or we can become prideful and overwhelmed with a false sense of “winning” for not being as wretched as someone else. Both perspectives are wrong. The only ruler we should be putting our lives up against is the Word of God. When we take competition out of the game, our relationships with others lose that unnecessary tension.
- Take advantage of everyday moments to glorify God. These moments come more often than you probably think, and we miss out more than you probably want to know. When you’re walking closely with Jesus, you become so much more aware of what God is doing around you. He puts us in situations every day where we have the opportunity to glorify Him. Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and ask Him how you can be a part of what He’s already doing. Henry Blackaby, in his Bible study, Experiencing God, says we should look out for where God is already working and join Him. 1
A book could be written about each one of these points. In fact, there are probably several books written about each one. I’ve only scratched the surface of ways to refocus your life on Jesus. If you want to dig deeper, though, let me tell you about a retreat coming up that has the potential to radically change your relationship with Jesus.
The retreat is called “stronger.“ It’s going to be four days of SO. MUCH. We’re going to really dig into the Word of God with Lisa Harper and Christine Caine; Ellie Holcomb is going to lead us in sweet times of worship, and we’re going to have the most precious time of fellowship because there will only be two hundred of us. We’ll be in the majestic mountains of Beaver Creek, CO, and together we’re going to challenge ourselves by adventuring in the outdoors—hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, and stretching.
Yes, we’ll do exciting things, nourish our bodies, and spend time in beautiful surroundings, but we know that the only way to truly become stronger is through a relationship with Jesus. When we focus on Him, we can’t help but be transformed. And transformation takes a lot more than a couple of flimsy New Year’s resolutions.
As my friends and I walked back to my apartment after all the festivities on New Year’s Eve, I felt overwhelmed with a sense of hope. I’m not sure what everyone else around me was thinking, but I’ve decided I need to refocus on Jesus, not just this year, but this entire decade.
- Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 69.
Want to learn more about the stronger. event? Click here to register and get more information.
Darilynn Keith is the Digital Event Coordinator for LifeWay Christian Resources where she leads LifeWay Women Simulcasts as well as other live events. She’s passionate about creating environments for people to encounter Christ and loves seeing the transformation that happens in their lives as a result. Growing up in Daytona Beach, FL, Nashville, TN, has been home for more than 12 years. She and her dog, Teddy Ruxpin, reside in Germantown, where she enjoys live music, new restaurants, and all things creative!