New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to reflect on what the past year has taught, challenged, inspired, and changed you forever. Examen has long been a spiritual tool of the church. It is so easy to simply live out a year without learning from the year. Although God is so infinite I imagine He could pack 1,000 lessons into every twenty-four hour day, it is important for us to learn at least one or two.
What difference did this year make in your life? Today is a perfect time to do a one-year Examen. Think about the past twelve months and consider what was the most important lesson or experience you received in each month. List them and consider how you will bring all the lessons of the last year into the New Year.
Last January, I led a quiet retreat for women to do just this. We started the year together listening for God to lead us to ways that we could draw closer to Him in the coming year. It was a great spiritual exercise. It helped prepare me for the year I had ahead of me.
We have no way of knowing what the circumstances of our year will hold, but we can know that God will never leave or forsake us. There were some things that I knew or thought I knew about the upcoming year. I knew the things that were already on my calendar; a trip to Israel, speaking engagements, a family trip to Florida, birthday celebrations, etc. I had no way of knowing that my whole year would be rocked by the unexpected and un-calculable death of my husband that happened right in the middle of the year. Had I known what the year would hold, I don’t think I could have seen a way to live through it.
That is part of God’s plan. It is not for us to know everything. There are things we can know and things we can’t know and things that we would never want to know if we could. That January retreat I concentrated on the things I could know. I could know how to draw closer to God. It was the drawing closer to God that helped me experience fully the lessons, challenges, inspirations and changes that the year brought to my life.
As I come to this New Year, I am more convinced that drawing ever closer to God is the best way to receive what the year will contain. I want to pay attention to God’s lessons. I want to be aware of His blessings, I want to fully receive the goodness of all that He has planned for me and anticipate its unfolding before me. Proverbs 16:3 says,
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
This seems to be a good way to enter the New Year, on New Year’s Eve, recalling the lessons of each month from the last year and writing them down, then on New Year’s Day writing down the plans you have for drawing closer to God in the New Year. The best plan you can make is to draw closer to God so that whatever this New Year holds for you, you will have a place to be held.
When you are finished, post your most important lesson from 2012 on Tea Time for Your Soul Facebook Page so we can all learn.