I often begin a new year a little anxious. I didn’t used to. I used to begin each year with gusto, eagerly anticipating what good things lay ahead for me and mine.
But the last 3 years, there have been trying times occurring in January each year. These coincided with year long struggles over certain issues in our family. Between beginning a year with a crises and then experiencing a year long struggle, I can feel beat down and black and blue. Tired of some of the same old fights and uphill battles.
So instead of eagerly anticipating, I can be fearfully dreading what lay ahead for me and mine. This is what comes naturally to me in my flesh. But I have more to bring to the fight than my flesh! I have learned what helps me the most when I am feeling the least able.
More than 10 years ago, I was introduced to the chronological Bible. It is a one year Bible organized in the order the events happened in history. So for instance, as I read about David, I am reading the Psalms he wrote at that particular time in his life. And as I read about kings, I read the prophets that were ministering during their reigns.
As an orderly and sequential learner, it has made a dramatic impact on me spiritually. To learn the Bible as it truly occurred historically has made such an improvement in my understanding of God and His story.
Another benefit is that it is divided into daily readings that cover a year in time. So each day I know what to do as I sit down for my quiet time. No more fumbling around trying to figure out what to read. It is a set schedule that works well for me and reading the whole Bible through is life changing !
I will not use my chronological every year. I don’t want anything to become too structured and then stagnant. But since I did not use it in 2015, I am already excited to begin it again for this new year.
Another favorite of mine is “Streams In The Desert” by L.B. Cowman. It is a devotional written by a woman many, many years ago. It is a deep devotional that is very comforting when your heart is hurting. It is like balm to my soul at times, filled with Scripture, stories and poetry.
Like the chronological Bible, I do not use it every year, but it is always close by for when I am feeling a little banged up and bruised by punches in life that seem to come out of nowhere. You know, the ones you don’t see coming. Whether it is health, finances, relational, or job related, it can happen way before you anticipate it and then you are caught off guard. And down for the count.
But with these two tools, which I have found to be tried and true for strength and encouragement, I am ready for the new year. Whether God is glorified through my ease or my suffering, I have what I need to stand firm and persevere. It will be a happy new year. Because I am His, and He is mine.