What or Who Will Define You in the New Year?
by Joanne Ellison

What a beautiful thing to see on my calendar….. 2021. I love change, new beginnings and a fresh start. I think our Creator designed us for change. We are amazingly adaptable and the best of His creations. And I think it is because His goal is for us to grow to be more and more like Him each day.  Made in the image of our Creator, as we make space for Him in our hearts, He expands our ability to love more deeply, to care with sincerity, to be gentler and kinder to ourselves and others and to be filled with the hope of believing in His Son.

But there still remains a lingering question as we enter the new year. Who or what will define us in 2021? In many ways 2020 helped us to see that we are not as in control as we think we are or would like to be. The events of this past year have helped us to recognize that we need our Sovereign God and we need Him now. We need to know that there is someone in charge and that the world is not just spinning out of control. Can I be frank with you? There is a lot and I mean A LOT of fear out there. And for good reason. And there are a lot of angry, broken and hurt people running around.  So the question remains– what or who will define you in the new year? Will regret, shame, a broken heart, loss of employment define our response and our view of who we are in Christ? I believe we have an opportunity to shake off the dust of 2020 and use the strength the Lord has given us having endured a very, very difficult year.

Sometimes it’s helpful for me to put on my kingdom lenses and ask the Lord what He is up to in this season.  As we approached this new year, I did just that. I asked the Lord to clear my mind of all of the stress of 2020 and show me where He has been at work. And wow is God perspective our friend! My anxious heart became peaceful when I realized that being out of control led to surrendering control; that being anxious led to placing my anxiety on Him; that feeling overwhelmed motivated me to seek Him not just in the morning during my quiet times but instead to have quiet time in my heart all day long.

Some of you know that I have three children and 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Praying for them has been a great privilege in my life. I have learned that as children go through the process of formation, they are fragile and vulnerable to so many outside influences trying to shape their lives. As a mother and grandmother we have responsibilities to be great influencers and shape their hearts towards God. I have learned that as parents or even as spiritual parents, we have a calling to step up to the plate and help the ones in our care recognize that only God can define them for their unique and wildly magnificent purposes in life.

As we consider those in our care, and as we consider even ourselves, let’s remember words of Scripture that remind us of our identity in Christ:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes. (Romans 8:28)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit that will last. (John 15:16)

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart… (Jeremiah 1:5)


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