This is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and, through the years, I have learned how valuable this time at the end of the year really is. It allows us to evaluate and to look forward. While we can never truly plan the future (Jas. 4:13-14), attempting to prepare for it can be a wonderfully enriching experience.
This year’s calendar worked out perfectly. We observed Christmas last week, and we’ve already had the final Sunday of the year. That gave us these days to work on the last details for 2020 and plan for 2021. If your position allows you this luxury, I would strongly encourage you to try it. If you’ve already missed it, don’t despair. There’s still time to begin a tradition of preparing for the new year. As I explain how I look at the year ahead, I hope it might encourage you to consider your own planning for 2021.
I naturally think of the year in terms of holidays, seasons, themes, emphases and events that provide structure, richness and meaning. One reason 2020 was hard on me is that so many of my plans were interrupted, and every day from March to July tended to blend in with the rest. But as I grow in my responsibilities with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, I find that my calendar flows directly with the way in which I intuitively divide the year. And looking at the big picture first helps me fill in the gaps with details.
There’s a little book in our church book store called “Time and the End of Time.” The cover and the title have attracted my interest, and several times I’ve picked it up to take a look at it. It was written by John Fox in 1676—not to be confused by the John Foxe of Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs.
Fox’s book is divided into Two Sections or Discourses: the first discusses the reasons why Christians ought to redeem their time; the second brings to focus the truth of our “latter end.” For the moment, you can read “Time and the End of Time” online here.
I should point that I haven’t read this book. This isn’t a book review. However, one thing which caught my eye was Paul Washer’s endorsement:
It [the book] is a theological treatise teaching us to live for the glory of God as wise stewards who have been given both time and resources to administer. The author writes pastorally as one who truly cares for our souls. Not only does he provide practical advice, but he also pleads with us to live for eternity and to walk circumspectly as those who will have to give an account on that final day. There is an urgency in his words that will wake us from slumber and impel us to ‘lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and run with patience the race that is set before us. (Paul Washer; emphases mine)
"As Christians, we often acknowledge Christ’s rule over things like human dignity, marriage, and maybe even our finances, but we often miss how central a Christian view of time is to a truly Christian worldview. Thus, we often find our time hijacked, assumed, taken for granted, killed, wasted, and even forgotten." - Breakpoint
"Meetings, emergencies, and time with people are a given. But what about preparing messages, planning ahead, and crafting direction? Some leaders have excellent time management skills because they set large blocks of time for that work while others attempt to 'squeeze that work in' to their busy schedules." - Church Leaders