It's always surreal to review your past year. There is part of you that feels good about your accomplishments and part of you that wishes more goodness would have occured. I recently experienced these emotions when launching the 2014 Annual Report for Jesus' Economy. Here are some spiritual lessons I learned through my reflections.
Hindsight offers so much clarity that the process does not. When I look at some of the bigger decisions Jesus' Economy made in 2014, I only wish we had made those shifts earlier. I have to remind myself that I can only have that emotion in hindsight. In realtime, ideas come together slowly: We need input and discussion to draw wise conclusions, and much prayer. Rather than wishing for changes sooner, we should be glad that we were open to changes when we were.
This makes me think of James' words: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him ... let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak" (James 1:5, 19).
I always want to do more and be more, and in the process, I easily forget to thank God for what he has done. Near the end of assembling our annual report, I began going back through it and emphasizing the work of God. What happened through Jesus' Economy in 2014 is nothing short of a miracle, and I need to give God credit for it. It was God who came through for us, to make his work happen. We are merely stewards of this effort. When you see all the work put together in one picture, like an annual report, this becomes obvious. Thus, I wonder if this is a process we should apply to our lives in general. If we were to review regularly, would we more easily see God at work and be grateful for it?
Simply put: There is no value in wishing for more in retrospect. There is only value in being grateful for our "portion" and what God has done with it. This is the lesson of the book of Ecclesiastes. We should be grateful for growth, but also grateful for sustainability. Another way to put it: Growth too fast makes the heart grow weary. We should be grateful for sustainability, not longing after growth that is overly ambitious. For that type of growth will not last.
Reflecting on this past year has made me dream about all the great things that could be, and all the incredible work that I want to see God do. Our dreams must fold into God's dreams (the lesson of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), but once we're certain of God's dreams, we should pray and work to make those dreams real (Matt 7:7-11).
Once again, simply put: We should celebrate the victories of God and then act on what we believe he wants to do next. And along the way, we should pray, pray, and then pray again.
I am thankful for these lessons. They profoundly remind me that all of us merely steward God's work in the world. We are all instruments that God is using to play his beautiful song. Let's dream with him and sing with him.